WASHINGTON (CN) – The survival of the Chiricahua leopard frog is threatened by the destruction of its marsh habitats by water diversion, cattle grazing and increasing temperatures, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The agency has proposed designating over 11,000 acres as critical habitat for the species.
The frog has been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act since 2002, and the agency was forced by a federal court order in 2009 to propose critical habitat by December 2010.
The agency asked for an extension of the deadline after the taxonomy of several sub-species of leopard frogs changed and new habitat had to be considered, as frogs formerly not considered Chiricahua leopard frogs were included in the species.
The proposed critical habitat sprawls across eight counties in Arizona and five in New Mexico, where the Chiricahua was once found in more than 400 locations and is now known in fewer than 80. In addition to habitat loss, the frog is threatened by invasive species such as bull frogs and crayfish, which have driven them from streams and ponds so that it is common to find populations centered on man-made water sources such as livestock watering troughs.