Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, October 11, 2017

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

Cascades Frog Closer to California Endangered Species Act Protection

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— In response to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, the California Fish and Game Commission today designated the Cascades frog as a candidate for protection under the state’s Endangered Species Act.

Cascades frogs are no longer found in most of the mountain lakes and streams of Northern California where they once lived, primarily due to disease and predation by introduced fish. Cascades frogs have completely disappeared from Lassen Volcanic National Park.

“Cascades frogs are tough little amphibians, but they desperately need our help to survive the dramatic habitat changes occurring in Northern California,” said Jeff Miller with the Center. “Protecting these frogs under the California Endangered Species Act should spur habitat restoration measures, invasive species control and reintroduction of frogs to their former habitats.”

As a candidate species, the Cascades frog will receive all the protections of a state listed species for a year while the commission decides whether to provide permanent endangered species protections.

Cascades frogs were once numerous in aquatic habitats in Northern California, from the Shasta-Trinity region to the Modoc Plateau and south through the Lassen National Forest to the upper Feather River. Cascades frog populations remain in the Klamath Mountains and Southern Cascades near Mount Shasta and the Lassen area.

The introduction of non-native trout into formerly fishless lakes is a major threat to Cascades frogs. Invasive trout prey upon frog eggs, larvae and tadpoles and compete with native frogs for food.

Cascades frogs are also susceptible to a particularly virulent fungal pathogen that causes the debilitating chytrid disease in amphibians. Other threats include pesticides, climate change, fire suppression, livestock grazing, marijuana cultivation and habitat loss from vegetation management and timber harvest.

“I think the Klamath and Cascades mountains would be much less interesting places without their native frogs,” Miller said. “California should do everything it can to keep Cascades frogs around.”

Cascades frogs (Rana cascadae) inhabit lakes, ponds, wet meadows and streams at moderate to high elevations, between 750 and 8,200 feet, in Northern California’s mountains. These hardy frogs hibernate during the winter in mud at the bottom of deep ponds and springs that do not freeze solid. They emerge to breed shortly after spring snowmelt in shallow, still-water habitats such as lake alcoves, 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. 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 relatively abundant in the Klamath Mountains, some frog populations have recently disappeared from this area and numbers of frogs at some previously robust Klamath populations have 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.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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