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For Immediate Release, May 23, 2013

Contact: Collette Adkins Giese, (651) 955-3821

New Study: Frog, Toad Populations Declining at Alarming Rate

Scientists Predict Amphibians Could Disappear From Half Their Current Habitat in 20 Years

WASHINGTON— Declines of frogs, toads and salamanders are more widespread and severe than previously realized, according to a study released this week. In the report U.S. Geological Survey scientists and collaborators conclude that amphibian declines are occurring in populations nationwide — even in protected national parks and wildlife refuges.

Boreal toad
Boreal toad photo by Chris Brown, USGS. Photos are available for media use.

“This new study confirms that our country’s amphibians are facing an extinction crisis that demands aggressive action to tackle threats like habitat destruction and climate change,” said Collette Adkins Giese, a Center for Biological Diversity biologist and attorney focusing on protection of amphibians and reptiles. “Scientists have known for a long time that frogs, toads and salamanders are in big trouble, but the declines this study documents are surprising and disturbing.”

The study found that on average, populations of amphibians vanished at a rate of 3.7 percent each year. At that rate these species would disappear from half their current habitats in about 20 years. Amphibians already listed as threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature are vanishing from their habitats at an even faster rate of 11.6 percent a year. At that pace the threatened species would disappear from half their current habitat in six years.

“Threats like habitat loss, disease and climate change are pushing many frogs, toads and salamanders to the brink of extinction. That’s why we’re working hard to get the rarest amphibians protected under the Endangered Species Act,” said Adkins Giese. “The Endangered Species Act has a track record of saving 99 percent of animals under its care. It’s the best tool we have to help reverse this accelerating loss of amphibians.” 

The Center is working to gain Endangered Species Act protection for dozens of imperiled amphibians in the U.S. In 2011 the conservation group filed the largest-ever Endangered Species Act petition focused solely on protecting U.S. amphibians and reptiles. Also in 2011 the Center and its allies filed a petition to protect the boreal toad, one of the species analyzed in this week’s study. In response to that petition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service initiated a full status review for boreal toads in the southern Rocky Mountains, Utah, southern Idaho and northeastern Nevada.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 500,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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