For Immediate Release, February 22, 2012
Contact: Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495
Oregon Spotted Frog Closer to Endangered Species Act Protection
PORTLAND, Ore.— In accordance with a historic settlement agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity that will result in protection decisions for 757 species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it is evaluating whether to protect the Oregon spotted frog under the Endangered Species Act and requested information from experts and the public. The agency has recognized the need to protect the spotted frog since 1991, when it was designated a candidate species, but had failed to actually provide protection. Under the 2011 agreement with the Center, the agency is required to provide protection or determine it is no longer warranted in 2013.
“The Oregon spotted frog badly needs the help that only the Endangered Species Act can give it, so we’re glad to see that it’s one step closer,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species program director with the Center. “The spotted frog used to be common in the Willamette Valley and around Puget Sound, but now is limited to just a few dozen isolated areas, where it’s teetering on the brink of extinction. The Endangered Species Act has saved 99 percent of the species it protects from extinction and can do the same for this frog.”
The Oregon spotted frog has been lost from more than 90 percent of its former range in southern British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and Northern California. Today there are fewer than 50 known sites where the frog still survives. The species is threatened by habitat loss, disease, introduced fish and contaminants. In particular, the frog has declined in the face of massive loss of wetlands next to rivers and streams.
“With Endangered Species Act protection, the Oregon spotted frog will have a real chance to survive and recover,” said Greenwald. “Protecting the frog will also have real benefits for people. The wetland habitats that the frog needs also prevent flooding, clean our water and provide habitat for a wide diversity of fish and wildlife.”
The Center first petitioned for protection for the Oregon spotted frog and many other candidates in 2004. In 2008, the Center and its allies sued to challenge cattle grazing near one of the frog’s remaining sites along Jack Creek in the Fremont-Winema National Forest. In response to that lawsuit, the U.S. Forest Service installed a three-mile fence to exclude cattle from the frog’s breeding grounds in Jack Creek.