Habitat help for endangered frogs

By Pat Jenkins The Dispatch In an action felt particularly in the Eatonville area, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finalized critical habitat for the Oregon spotted frog within the species' known range in Washington and Oregon. Critical habitat is defined by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as areas vital to the long-term survival of listed species, and the federal designation for the Oregon spotted frog reflects the latest science and information from several public comment periods, officials said. Designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership or establish a refuge or preserve, and has no impact on private landowners taking actions on their land that do not require federal funding or permits. The Oregon spotted frog GÇô an ESA-listed species since August 2014 GÇô spends most of its life in water and needs it continually to survive, as compared to other frogs that live part of their life in water and part on land. In a virtually annual occurrence aimed at boosting their numbers, the frogs are raised at Northwest Trek and then released into natural environs in Pierce County and elsewhere by the staff at the wildlife park near Eatonville. Raising them from eggs through the tadpole and juvenile status gives them a head start for a better chance at survival by giving them a chance to grow without the threat of predators, officials said. Historically, the Oregon spotted frog ranged from the lower Fraser River in British Columbia to the Pit River drainage in northeastern California. It is now restricted to populations in British Columbia, Canada in addition to Washington and Oregon. Officials believe the species may no longer exist in California. Eric Rickerson, the federal Fish and Wildlife Service's supervisor in Washington, said the official designation of critical habitat in Washington and Oregon allows the agency "to continue to to address these threats in diverse habitat types across the frogs' range." The designation includes about 65,000 acres and 20 miles of rivers.


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