JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (WTAJ) — A non-profit is dedicating its efforts to the conservation of frogs, toads, other amphibians and plants.

PA Woods and Forests says it’s “restoring habitat for overlooked species in your backyard” on its website.

Creator AAron Capouellez started the organization earlier this year and said frogs and toads are declining quickly around the world.

“They’re one of the fastest disappearing groups of animals in the world right now,” Capouellez said. “They’re dying from disease, from habitat change, habitat disruption, pollution, all kinds of different things that plague these animals.”

Capouellez said PA has at least 12 species of frogs and toads, but only about half of them are considered abundant.

He wants to stop this trend by raising awareness of the importance of the animals in the ecosystem, especially in Pennsylvania.

He said frogs and toads eat invasive insects and bugs like ants, mosquitoes, stink bugs, millipedes and cockroaches.

“[They] will eat them in backyard settings or around your house,” Capouellez said. “They’re important to have around because they can limit all the invasive [insects] that are getting into your house or bothering your garden.”

But Capouellez said common garden chemicals like pesticides, herbicides and insecticides hurt the species, so it’s best to limit these chemicals to keep them safe.

“These animals have to hide in the vegetation that we’re putting chemicals on,” he said. “They’re so sensitive. They breathe through their skin, so if they sit in water that’s just had chemicals put in it … it’s going to have an effect.”

Capouellez added drivers should be on the lookout for frogs and toads that could be near roads surrounded by woods and trees, especially at night while it’s raining.

He recommends drivers in these conditions take more urban or popular roads rather than more rural or scenic routes.

“Where the forest is, that’s where these animals are going to be crossing … from one spot to another,” he said, adding many frogs and toads will cross roads to reach new areas for breeding. “That’s also where I’m going to be trying to rescue them. So to avoid hitting me and hitting them, it would be awesome if we could get people to avoid taking these roads.”

Capouellez has gone on rescue hikes every February through July for the past four years for his conservation project and YouTube series Frog Week. The fourth edition premiered Monday, August 1 with a new episode every day until Sunday, August 7.

Capouellez is studying biology with a focus on herpetology, the study of frogs and toads, at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, but he’s already made a significant discovery before even earning his degree.

Last summer, Capouellez discovered the eastern gray tree frog in Cambria and Somerset Counties that was not known to be in the region beforehand.

He rescued his pet eastern tree frog, Meredith, from a parking lot at a Walmart his friend was working at. He said his friend told him if he didn’t go rescue the frog, she would have probably eventually be run over.

“She went from being looked at almost as a disposable frog to … [being] on a news story,” he said. “She’s been with me to do presentations involving church groups, libraries and nursing homes.”

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Capouellez has several frogs and toads as pets for presentations, but he doesn’t recommend these animals as pets under most circumstances. He said the average lifespan for toads as pets is around two years, while female toads can live in the wild for around 10.

“It’s doing them injustice by taking them in if it’s not necessary,” he said. “If there’s an injured frog or toad, like it doesn’t have any eyes or it’s missing a limb, it’s a perfect pet because it would probably get eaten or it would get run over by a car. … But if the animal is literally just in your backyard, and it’s just trying to live, I don’t think that’s as good as an option, because the function it’s going to perform for you in your yard is so much more than what it’s going to do for you as a pet.”

As a tie-in with PA Woods and Forests, a Johnstown restaurant is hosting its own Frog Week. Mill House Cafe and Co. has frog-themed drinks on Thursday, August 4 like frozen frog gummies in Italian sodas and the “Swamp Bog,” a lemonade drink with powdered green tea.

Capouellez will be at the restaurant from 5 to 8 p.m. to present his conservation efforts and answer questions.