The Oregon spotted frog will now receive protection under the Endangered Species Act. The small frog was once abundant in the Northwest.
The Oregon spotted frog, once abundant in the Northwest, now lives in a few scattered wetlands across the region. Over the years, it’s lost up to 90 percent of its habitat. Now, the frog will receive protection under the Endangered Species Act as a threatened species.
“We’ve just lost so much of our wetland habitat, especially in the last 50 years, to conversion to agriculture, to channelization of our rivers to dams,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director for the Center for Biological Diversity.
Invasive fish, contaminants, and disease have also threatened the frog.
The Oregon spotted frog has been a candidate for the Endangered Species Act for more than 20 years. In recent years, several conservation efforts have been underway to help the frog, including Washington’s Sustainability in Prison’s Project. There, inmates raised tadpoles and released them into the wild.
The frog has largely been lost in the Willamette Valley and is now found in a few places in the Puget Trough, on Washington’s west side.
“It’s a frog whose call would have once been loud echoing through the Willamette Valley,” Greenwald said. “To me, the thought of having the opportunity to again hear this frog and ensure that it continues to be a part of the Northwest is really exciting.”
Klamath County commissioners in southern Oregon are worried the decision will hurt the local ranching and logging industries.
“It’s just another encroachment on the citizens’ private property rights and rights to use public lands,” said Commissioner Tom Mallams.
Mallams said many farmers and ranchers in Klamath County have already fenced off wetlands on their property.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials said it’s unlikely the listing will affect private landowners.
Featured Image Credit: Vince Patton/OPB