Werner Siebeck uses the landing net to retrieve tadpoles from the pond and transfer them to boxes with fresh water and food – a short-term emergency solution. © Dagmar Rutt
If you visit the garden of Claudia Piatzer and Werner Siebeck in Gräfelfing, you will notice that people who love nature live here. Now it is precisely an excess of nature that clouds the joy of the idyll.
Gräfelfing – Roses climb up wooden lattices and bloom in many colours, grasses, perennials, bushes and flowers transform the property in Alois-Johannes-Lippl-Straße in Gräfelfing into a green, fragrant oasis. The only thing that disturbs the picture is a row of gray plastic boxes grouped around the pond, which is only a few square meters in size. Just the day before, Werner Siebeck bought another one. They are home to hundreds of small tadpoles, and they are still not enough. Because the pond is dark from the scurrying larvae of the frogs – according to Werner Siebeck, toads and grass frogs.
The large number of young people is no surprise. There was already an abundance of it last year, and this spring the Gräfelfinger noticed a dozen pairs of frogs near his pond. He likes the animals very much. "I myself have always helped to bring frogs and toads safely across the road towards the forest," says Werner Siebeck. After all, he lives not far from Jörg-Tömlinger-Straße in Planegg, which is closed to through traffic at the time of the frog migration.
But there are simply too many. Last year, the pond had already tipped over due to the overpopulation, his six fish died of a fungus that they had gotten because of the heavy contamination of the water, says Werner Siebeck. He cleaned the pond and introduced new fish – again four Shubunkin goldfish and two grass carp. Actually, experts say, these fish eat, among other things, just tadpoles. In this case, that doesn't seem to be enough – the frogs are far superior. In order not to relive last year's drama, Werner Siebeck now fishes tadpoles out of the pond with a landing net and relocates them to the boxes. He wants to keep as many alive as possible, feeds them and changes the water frequently. "After all, amphibians are strictly protected." But the boxes are only an emergency solution, an intermediate quarters that also testify to a certain helplessness.
In fact, Werner Siebeck feels abandoned. Because the authorities strictly forbid him to relocate the tadpoles and release them into nature. "Here, the protection of species on the one hand and the ban on reintroduction into the wild on the other hand are in conflict," says the Gräfelfinger. Last year, he already went through the instances, from the municipality of Planegg, where he wanted to release the tadpoles in the Lichtwegweiher biotope, to the district office and the district government. There was always a clear rebuff. The Upper Nature Conservation Authority at the government of Upper Bavaria, for example, rejected the application for a "species protection exemption" for the relocation of the tadpoles, pointing out that the pond was demonstrably suitable as a spawning ground, therefore a resettlement was not necessary. What's more, it is not allowed. This is because protected species must not be disturbed in their natural habitat. In response to Merkur's request, the Lower Nature Conservation Authority in the Munich District Office confirmed that the Federal Nature Conservation Act also applies in this case, according to which it is prohibited "to pursue, capture, injure or kill wild animals of specially protected species or to remove, damage or destroy their developmental forms from nature". In other words, the abundance of tadpoles, which is growing into a plague, is acceptable.
Christian Köbele, an expert in biotope management and amphibian protection at the office of the Munich district group of the Landesbund für Vogeschutz (LBV), takes a less dogmatic view. He points to a possible exception to the strict ban on resettlement. If a protected animal is injured, it may be helped. In this way, it is also possible to relocate protected tadpoles, whose shallow spawning ponds threaten to dry out, to a suitable body of water in the area. Köbele: "We do that in certain cases." Werner Siebeck's small pond may suffer from excessive oxygen depletion by the tadpoles, which in turn endangers them – and the fish.
Köbele emphasizes, however, that the LBA is not an approval authority. He advises Werner Siebeck to contact the environmental office of the municipality of Gräfelfing. As luck would have it, the Schneidergrube in Gräfelfing is a large biotope with several spawning ponds - under the care and maintenance of the LBV. If the municipality agrees, an exemption is at least not unthinkable, according to Köbele. Nevertheless, his conclusion is: "There is a conflict here, and it is a stupid situation."
Werner Siebeck calls the whole thing a "madness" for which he lacks any understanding. "It's completely absurd that hundreds of strictly protected tadpoles have to die here while they could live in another body of water," he says. By the way, he hasn't seen his fish for a long time. The water in the pond is too black from tadpoles for that.