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CALIFORNIA RED-LEGGED FROG } Rana draytonii; formerly Rana aurora draytonii

RANGE: California’s Sonoma and Butte counties in the north to Riverside County in the south, mostly in the western counties

STATUS: Listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act

THREATS: Habitat loss to urban development, agriculture, logging and wetland draining, impacts of dams and water diversions, competition and predation by introduced species, pesticides, cattle grazing, and global warming

When the California red-legged frog first made its debut in Mark Twain’s “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” the species was a common sight in Southern California wetlands. The frog was once so common, in fact, that it was a staple cuisine for humans. By now, California’s largest native frog has lost at least 90 percent of its population and 70 percent of its former range. The species was rightfully declared “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act more than two decades ago, and after litigation by the Center for Biological Diversity, it was granted more than 4 million acres of protected habitat. But thanks to pressure from development interests, the Bush administration slashed the species’ habitat protections dramatically; due largely to work by the Center, the administration finally agreed in its final months to consider protecting more habitat for Twain’s favorite amphibian.


Photo © Dan C Holland