SAVING THE OREGON SPOTTED FROG

The first species ever to be emergency-listed as an endangered species in Canada, the Oregon spotted frog was on the U.S. candidate list for 23 years before it federal protection in the United States. Named for the black spots that cover its head, back, sides and legs, the species has an historic range that stretches from California up north past the U.S.-Canadian border. But encroachments on its wetland habitats and the introduction of nonnative plants and animals have almost totally extinguished the frog. Over the past 50 years, this unique amphibian has disappeared from 90 percent of its former range — and since it was listed as a candidate in 1991, its habitat has been lost at an accelerating pace. The frog is also threatened by introduced species: Bullfrogs and green frogs compete with Oregon spotted frogs for food, while fish introduced for sport fishing may also compete for prey — or prey on native tadpoles. Invasive plants such as reed canarygrass can make wetland habitats unusable for native frogs.

In 2004, the Center filed a petition for the Oregon spotted frog as part of our Candidate Project — the largest single listing effort in Endangered Species Act history — requesting that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cease delaying protection for the frog and 224 other candidate species. In 2008, after we and our allies filed suit to protect the species from devastating livestock grazing in the home of one of its few populations, the Forest Service proposed to fence off the critical area to protect the frog from cattle. In 2011 the Center reached a landmark agreement with the Fish and Wildlife Service compelling the agency to move forward on protection decisions for the Oregon spotted frog and 756 other species — and requiring a listing proposal for the frog by 2013.When the Service failed to meet that deadline, the Center sued, and the Oregon spotted frog was protected under the Endangered Species Act in August 2014. A little less than two years later, the frog received 65,038 acres and 20.3 river miles of critical habitat.