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For Immediate Release, April 28, 2010

Contact: Noah Greenwald, Center for Biological Diversity, (503) 484-7495 or
Casey DeMoss Roberts, GRN, (504) 982-0468 or

Lawsuit Launched to Protect Endangered Frog in Coastal Mississippi:
Only 100 Gopher Frogs Remain

GULFPORT, Miss.— The Gulf Restoration Network and Center for Biological Diversity, represented by the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, today sent a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the state of Mississippi, and other agencies for failing to protect the fragile habitat that the extremely endangered Mississippi gopher frog depends on for its very existence.

“The Mississippi gopher frog breeds in only one pond on Earth,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “In approving and funding massive urban sprawl in close proximity to the Mississippi gopher frog’s last pond, the agencies have signed a death warrant for this unique amphibian.”

With funding from Housing and Urban Development, the state of Mississippi designed and built a wastewater-treatment facility and sewer line to support construction of an entire town called “Tradition” in direct proximity to the only pond where the Mississippi gopher frog is still found. Despite the likely impacts of the sewage plant, and ultimately the town itself, on the frog, the department did not complete formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or offer further mitigation for the frog. Conservationists are suing to prevent its extinction.

“The frog species is like the canary in the coal mine. When the frogs start dying off, that is a warning that there is a serious problem with the environment,” said Casey DeMoss Roberts, assistant director of water resources for the Gulf Restoration Network. “The new sewage treatment plant and proposed new construction are just too close to the breeding pond. It would be easy to give the gopher frogs a little more space and protect the health of the ecosystem in the process.”

Shy, secretive, grumpy: The Mississippi Gopher frog makes a lasting impression, and though the scientists studying the animals try not to assign character traits, one scientist reticently admitted that the frog does have “personality.” The Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Mississippi gopher frog as a federally endangered species in 2001. Once prevalent throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, the Mississippi gopher frog (Rana cevito sevosa) is nearly extinct mainly due to habitat loss. According to Gulf Plan surveys, “there is only one (1) known remaining population of the Mississippi gopher frog. The current population is estimated at approximately 100 adult frogs.” 

Gulf Restoration Network (GRN) is a network of environmental, social justice, and citizens’ groups and individuals committed to uniting and empowering people to protect and restore the natural resources of the Gulf Region for future generations.

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.

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