WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is designating 1.6 million acres of land in 27 California counties as critical habitat for the California red-legged frog, the largest native frog in the western United States.
The range of the California red-legged frog extends from Riverside County to Mendocino County along the Coast Range, from Calaveras County to Butte County in the Sierra Nevada, and in Baja California, Mexico.
While the frog has adapted to many different landscapes, it is dependent on rainfall and may disappear entirely from parts of its known range during extended periods of drought.
The agency is designating critical habitat in drought afflicted areas of the frog’s range so it can recolonize habitat which might otherwise be developed because of the appearance that red-legged frogs are no longer endemic to the area.
The agency estimates that the California red-legged frog has lost nearly 70 percent of its former range due to urban development, water diversion, non-native predators and habitat fragmentation.