Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, March 1, 2017

Contact: Jeff Miller, (707) 604-7739,

California Endangered Species Protections Sought for Cascades Frog

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— The Center for Biological Diversity today petitioned the California Fish and Game Commission to list the Cascades frog as an endangered species under the state Endangered Species Act.

Cascades frogs have been lost from most of their former habitats in the mountain lakes and streams of Northern California, primarily due to disease and introduction of nonnative fish.

“Forty years ago you could find the Cascades frog across much of Northern California. Today it has disappeared from most of its range, and it's still losing ground,” said Jeff Miller, conservation advocate with the Center. “The good news is that we can still save Cascades frogs with the critical protection of the California Endangered Species Act.”

Cascades frogs once lived from the Shasta-Trinity region to the Modoc Plateau and south through the Lassen National Forest to the upper Feather River. Remaining populations are in the Klamath-Trinity region, the southern Cascades in the vicinity of Mount Shasta and the Lassen area.

The introduction of nonnative trout into formerly fishless lakes is a major threat to Cascades frogs since the fish predate upon and compete with frogs. Cascades frogs are also susceptible to a particularly virulent fungal pathogen that causes the disease chytridiomycosis in amphibians. Other threats include pesticides, climate change, fire suppression, livestock grazing, and habitat loss from vegetation management and timber harvest.

A recent study warned that amphibians are suffering an unprecedented extinction crisis, with 200 frog species around the world wiped out since the 1970s and hundreds more frog species at risk.

“Our world would be a much less interesting place without frogs,” Miller said. “California should do everything it can to keep Cascades frogs around.”

Cascades frogs (Rana cascadae) are medium-sized frogs that inhabit lakes, ponds, wet meadows and streams at moderate to high elevations (750 to 8,200 feet) in the mountains of Northern California. These hardy frogs hibernate during the winter in mud at the bottom of deep ponds and springs that do not freeze solid; they come out to breed shortly after spring snowmelt in shallow, still-water habitats such as alcoves of lakes, ponds, potholes, flooded meadows and sometimes slow-moving streams.

Cascades frog numbers and populations have been declining precipitously in California since about 1970. They have disappeared from more than 95 percent of their former localities in the Lassen area, where they remain in low numbers at only a dozen sites, with each of those populations slowly declining. The frogs appear to have completely disappeared from Lassen Volcanic National Park. Scientists predict some of the Lassen-area frog populations could be extirpated within 10 years without active management to improve their habitat.

Although Cascades frogs are still widespread and relatively abundant in the Klamath Mountains, some frog populations have recently disappeared from this area and frog abundance at some previously robust Klamath populations has clearly declined. At most sites recently surveyed in the Klamath Mountains, Cascades frog populations are small. Cascades frog populations in the Castle Crags Wilderness and the Klamath National Forest are thought to be particularly at risk.

The Center also petitioned in 2012 to protect the Cascades frog under the federal Endangered Species Act, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will not make a decision on whether the species warrants federal protection until 2022 at the earliest.

Cascades frog

Photo by Tierra Curry, Center for Biological Diversity. This image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.2 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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