US conservation group files lawsuit against Bush to protect Mississippi gopher frog

This is a video of a breeding ball of garter snakes in Quebec.

From Associated Press:

Conservation group files lawsuit to protect Mississippi gopher frog

A conservation group has filed a federal lawsuit against the Bush administration, arguing Mississippi’s gopher frog and five other endangered species are the victims of political corruption.The Center for Biological Diversity’s lawsuit says President Bush’s appointees in the Interior Department overruled the opinions of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scientists and failed to provide protection for the species.

A center employee said Bush has allowed “political interference” in scientific decisions.

“He’s appointed people at the Interior Department that are downright hostile to wildlife and designating habitat to wildlife,” said Will Hodges, a biodiversity advocate for the center.

The gopher frog was once plentiful across the Gulf Coast, but has dwindled to a few hundred specimens in three south Mississippi ponds.

The other five endangered species covered in the lawsuit are the Montana fluvial arctic grayling, the Mexican garter snake, the Santa Ana sucker in California and the Spikedace and loach minnows in Arizona and New Mexico.

Advocates at the center said they have identified 55 species they believe have been affected after partisan officials who favor development overruled scientific opinions.

They point to the recent resignation of former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior Julie MacDonald. She left the agency after the department’s inspector general found she “has been heavily involved with editing, commenting on, and reshaping” reports on endangered species written by biologists.

Nearly 6,500 Acres Protected as Critical Habitat for Endangered Mississippi Gopher Frogs: here.

Banded bullfrog (Kaloula pulchra) in Singapore: here.

6 thoughts on “US conservation group files lawsuit against Bush to protect Mississippi gopher frog

  1. [This comment, by Jeff, was stopped by over zealous anti spam software. I have restored it here. Administrator]

    I looked at some old stories about this, and we are approaching 20 years of trying to save this species. Chronology is on link at end of message. It miraculously hangs on from three ponds in southern Mississippi. The program director at Amphibian Ark emailed me this: “There is a captive program started for this species, but to date, zero breeding. What they really want is a modest facility adjacent to the natural breeding site, to take advantage of natural weather patterns.


  2. Mar 28 2008, 11:04 PM EDT

    Tenn. Zoo Breeds Endangered Frogs

    Associated Press Writer

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A new breeding program at the Memphis Zoo could nearly double the known population of an endangered frog species. Biologists estimate there are only about 100 adult Mississippi gopher frogs left in the wild, but zoo officials say they’ve successfully produced 94 tadpoles through in-vitro fertilization.

    The reclusive, stocky frog measures about three inches long as an adult and has large hind feet made for digging through holes and burrows made by other animals. They have a pointed snout and large eyes, which they cover with their front feet when threatened.

    The species once lived in Louisiana’s lower coastal plain, parts of Mississippi and the Mobile River delta in Alabama, but now is only found in two locations in Mississippi.

    Named by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as an endangered species in 2001, the frog’s habitat in longleaf pine forests and breeding sites in isolated ponds has been threatened by natural processes and residential development.

    Linda LaClaire, a biologist for the wildlife service, oversees the frog’s habitats in Mississippi and says the agency hopes to use the new tadpoles to grow the population in the wild.

    “They are endemic to the longleaf pine forest, which is almost gone in the south,” LaClaire said. “We also have a disease problem that creates tremendous mortality in tadpoles.”

    The zoo, which has been successful at in-vitro fertilization of another amphibian, says this is the first ever captive breeding of the Mississippi gopher frog.

    “We can now replicate this on a regular basis and hopefully can apply what we have learned to other endangered amphibians,” said Dr. Andy Kouba, the zoo’s director of research and conservation.

    Kouba said the tadpoles are currently about the size of a half dollar and just started sprouting legs. While the adult frogs that were used in the breeding are not on display, Kouba said the zoo might consider putting the new frogs in a public exhibit.

    “They like to hide, so we have to figure out a way to display them appropriately,” he said.

    On the Net:

    The Memphis Zoo:

    © 2008 The Associated Press.


  3. Endangered gopher frogs bred in zoo

    Published: April 8, 2008 at 12:38 AM

    MEMPHIS, April 8 (UPI) — Tennessee’s Memphis Zoo says it has successful started the first captive breeding program for endangered Mississippi gopher frogs.

    There are currently 94 tadpoles developing in the zoo, a significant number considering there are only about 100 adult Mississippi gopher frogs left in the wild, zoo officials said last month.

    “We are very excited about this scientific breakthrough at the Memphis Zoo,” Andy Kouba, director of research and conservation, said in a statement. “Hopefully what we have learned here can also benefit other endangered amphibians.”

    The zoo said the fully grown frogs will be about two inches long and have large hind feet made for digging.


  4. Vanishing frog gets jump-start

    4:00AM Saturday Nov 08, 2008

    New Zealand’s rare Hamilton’s frog, like the gopher frog, is under threat

    Pick up a Mississippi gopher frog and it covers its eyes with its forefeet, like someone afraid to see what’s coming next. And for at least a decade, it’s had good reason not to look.

    This year, for a change, nature gave a bit of a break to one of the nation’s most endangered species.

    Fewer than 100 remain in the wild, with the Detroit Zoo and four other zoos holding several dozen as well.

    Mississippi gopher frogs breed only in ponds so shallow they dry up in summer. Hot, dry springs have stranded tadpoles every year since 1998, when 2488 froglets hopped out of Glen’s Pond in coastal Harrison County, Mississippi.

    The pond held water longer this year. And 181 tadpoles survived a deadly parasite, made it through metamorphosis and headed into the surrounding DeSoto National Forest.

    Biologists saved seven generations. They wash some eggs in well water, apparently removing the parasite, hatch them in a lab and put the tadpoles in outdoor tanks.

    “Our efforts have managed to stave off likely extinction but there’s a long way to go,” said Joe Pechmann, an associate professor of biology at Western Carolina University who has studied the frogs since 2002.

    Scientists estimate the world has lost up to 170 frog species just in the last decade, and another 1900 are threatened.

    – AP


  5. Endangered Frogs Found In California

    Posted on: Saturday, 25 July 2009, 11:40 CDT

    Scientists have discovered evidence of a hefty amount of the practically extinct mountain yellow-legged frog in Southern California, where the amphibian has not been spotted in a half-century.

    Like other amphibians whose populations continue to decline, the frog was thought to have only about 122 adults in the San Gabriel, San Bernardino and San Jacinto mountain ranges.

    In June, U.S. Geological Survey biologists and a research team from the San Diego Natural History Museum separately discovered a mountain yellow-legged frog at places that were 2 1/2 miles apart from each other in the Tahquitz and Willow creeks area of the San Jacintos.

    The USGS team was only trying to test the area for the idea of reviving the species, ecologist Adam Backlin said Friday to AP News.

    In 10 years of developing the species, 300 areas had been reviewed in the mountain ranges without any large amounts being found, Backlin said. The first frog was discovered on June 10 in Tahquitz Creek.

    “We were just blown away,” he said.

    Scientists were aware that the frogs had a habitat there around 50 years ago because museums have specimens from the region, Backlin said. The historic record notes that the frogs thrived in every region that had a water elevation of 1,200 feet.

    “Between 1968, the 1970s, they just disappeared off the map,” he said. “We’re trying to figure out now what happened. So anything that is still currently out there has probably persisted since that time.”

    The frogs are shy and hard to find. They typically do not travel much, so the large distance between the newly found frogs is a sign of a large population.

    “And if there’s a large population, there may be more frogs in that one creek than we know of across the entire range of the species,” Backlin said.

    The finds follows the San Diego Zoo’s first-ever achievement in the proliferation a mountain yellow-legged frog bred in captivity. Tadpoles were taken from a stream in the San Bernardino National Forest and sent to the zoo. One frog completely grew and matured.

    “Historically, scientists have had great difficulty breeding frogs in captivity,” said Jeff Lemm, an animal research coordinator for the San Diego Zoo. “We are excited by this success and cautiously optimistic we will have more eggs soon.”

    Backlin noted that captive breeding is tricky because replicating conditions like the chill of winter, when the frogs hibernate, is not an easy thing to do.

    “The hope is that we’ll get a lot of animals from that captive population this spring and use those to start developing new populations,” he said.

    “The emergency slope reconstruction project had the dual benefit of opening a road that was about to fail as well as helping to ensure that the last known population of the mountain yellow-legged frog in the San Bernardino Mountains had a program in place to aid the frog’s recovery,” said Craig Wentworth, a senior environmental planner/biologist with Caltrans, who funded the frog recovery.

    Jim Bartel, the field supervisor for the Fish and Wildlife Service office in Carlsbad, stated that his agency is happy to be involved in trying to rescue the mountain yellow-legged frog and save its habitat.

    “We look forward to reintroducing the species to its native habitat,” Bartel said.


  6. Pingback: Garter snake in the USA | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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