For Immediate Release, May 21, 2010
Contact: Ileene Anderson, (323) 654-5943, email@example.com
Feds Push to Reduce Protection for Endangered Arroyo Toad
LOS ANGELES— Today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a report recommending “downlisting” California’s rare arroyo toad from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Yet the report provides no data showing that populations of arroyo toads have actually rebounded to a level where reduction of protection is advisable. Currently, only 23 populations are scattered from San Luis Obispo to San Diego counties. Since the toad’s protection in 1994, only one new population has been found. When it was listed under the Act, the arroyo toad had lost more than 75 percent of its historic habitat to development, and further reductions have occurred since then. Now the animals survive only in the headwaters of coastal streams as small, isolated populations.
“The report shows that not much has changed for the arroyo toad since it was listed. If anything, threats to the disappearing toad have increased since listing — habitat loss, the deadly chytrid fungus that is devastating amphibian populations both here and abroad, and climate change,” said Ileene Anderson, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity, which has been fighting for the toad since 1999. “The report provides little justification for a change to less restrictive status.”
Today’s recommendation relies partially on updated land-management plans for the four Southern California forests. However, last year a federal court agreed with the Center on the inadequacy of those plans to protect endangered species and required increased protections for species, including the arroyo toad. Improvements in the plans have yet to be addressed by the Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“The recommendation relies on maintaining 20 populations of the arroyo toad, but that’s a net decrease in the number of existing populations,” added Anderson. “Maintaining fewer populations hardly justifies downlisting and is anathema to recovery.”
The arroyo toad is a small, dark-spotted amphibian that uses California streams and riverside forests for reproduction, foraging, and dispersal. Threats to the species include dams and reservoirs, roads, mining, agriculture, urbanization, and recreational facilities, off-highway vehicle parks, grazing, nonnative invasive species, disease, and drought.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 255,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.