WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to designate nearly 2,000 acres as critical habitat for protection of the Mississippi Gopher Frog, under the Endangered Species Act.
The acreage is in the Mississippi counties of Forrest, Harrison, Jackson, and Perry Counties.
When the agency first protected this species in 2001, the frogs were thought to live only at Glen’s Pond, in Harrison County’s DeSoto National Forest. Since then, study of the taxonomy of other gopher frogs indicates that they are the same species, so the agency has proposed to designate 11 additional areas, which are critical habitat for the amphibians now recognized as Mississippi gopher frogs.
In April, the Gulf Restoration Network and the Center for Biological Diversity threatened to sue the agency if more was not done to protect the fragile habitat where the endangered frogs are found.
The Mississippi gopher frog’s habitat includes sandy upland areas covered with longleaf pine forest; and wetland breeding sites isolated within forests. Their name comes from the fact that adult frogs live in active and abandoned burrows of animals such as tortoises, gophers and other mammals.