Three amphibians and their habitat proposed for federal protection

Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog may get federal protection.  Photo courtesy of U.S. National Park Service
Feather Publishing

  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog and the northern distinct population segment of the mountain yellow-legged frog as endangered and the Yosemite toad as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

  The service is also proposing to designate critical habitat for these three amphibian species in California: 1,105,400 acres across 16 counties for the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog, 221,498 acres across two counties for the mountain yellow-legged frog, and 750,926 acres across seven counties for the Yosemite toad. With overlapping areas, the total proposed critical habitat for the three amphibians is 1,831,820 acres. Most of the proposed critical habitat is on federal lands.

    “With two amphibian species possibly facing extinction, one more at serious risk, and almost 2 million acres of critical habitat being proposed, we will need the best available scientific information in order to make our final decision on protecting these species,” said Jan Knight, acting field supervisor for the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Service.

  “America’s wildlife resources belong to all of us, and ensuring the health of imperiled species is a shared responsibility. We encourage the public to submit information to help us better understand the condition of these species and their habitat.”

  The Fish and Wildlife Service seeks information regarding any threats to the species and regulations that may address those threats. The service will accept comments through June 24 on the two proposed rules. Comments may be submitted online at the Federal eRulemaking Portal at The docket number for the proposed listing rule is FWS-R8-ES-2012-0100 and for the proposed critical habitat rule is FWS-R8-ES-2012-0074.

  Comments can also be sent by U.S. mail to Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2012-0100 or FWS-R8-ES-2012-0074, Division of Policy and Directives Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM, Arlington, VA 22203.

    The Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog and the northern distinct population segment of the mountain yellow-legged frog are similar in appearance and behavior. They range from 1.5 to 3.25 inches in length and are a mix of brown and yellow, but can also be gray, red or green-brown. They may have irregular lichen- or moss-like patchiness. Their belly and undersurfaces of the hind limbs are yellow or orange. They produce a distinctive mink or garlic-like order when disturbed. The two species can be distinguished from each other physically by the ratio of the lower leg length to snout vent length.

    The Yosemite toad is usually 1.2 – 2.8 inches in length, with rounded to slightly oval glands, one on each side of the head, that produce toxins to deter some predators. The iris of the eye is dark brown with gold reflective cells.

    All three amphibian species are threatened by habitat degradation, predation, climate change and inadequate regulatory protection.

    For more information on these species, this proposal and the information sought, visit


About the Fish and Wildlife Service

  The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The service prides itself on scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionalism and commitment to public service. For more information visit, or connect via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Flicker.

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