Good News in Fight to Recover Relict Leopard Frog

In a landmark agreement the US Fish and Wildlife Service has issued the first permit in Nevada to the Nevada Department of Wildlife for implementing a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) in an effort to recover the relict leopard frog.

The CCAA process allows private landowners to voluntarily participate in the conservation of the relict leopard frog in an effort to recover the species, and hopefully, preclude the need to list the frog under the Endangered Species Act. However, any landowners participating in the CCAA can do so without having to worry about further restrictions on their lands or activities if, at some time in the future, the species is listed under the Act. This agreement would allow NDOW to hold the FWS permit and then enroll landowners under the program by working directly with the State agency.

"This is a proactive approach to conservation that recognizes our State authority for management of resident wildlife and insures more conservation efforts will be in place before the Service has to make a listing decision on this species," said Tony Wasley, Director of the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

The relict leopard frog is a rare native amphibian species that occurs only in the Virgin, Muddy and Colorado River drainages in Clark County and in adjacent areas of Arizona and Utah. Habitat for the frog has been lost or altered by the construction of Lakes Mead and Mohave and from other changes in its historic range in areas such as the Muddy and Virgin River basins. The frog was petitioned for listing and an initial decision by FWS on ESA protection is expected by fall 2017.

"We are excited about this landmark agreement and partnership with the Nevada Department of Wildlife," stated Mike Senn, Field Supervisor with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, "as it will help pave the way for important conservation efforts on private lands, that are vital to the recovery of the relict leopard frog."

Conservation of the relict leopard frog is guided by the Relict Leopard Frog Rangewide Conservation Agreement, which is a multi-party agreement established in 2005 between NDOW, the FWS, National Park Service, Arizona Game and Fish and the BLM. Actions on non-Federal land are particularly important to improve the status of the frog but have been difficult because of the lack of a way to protect landowners if the species becomes ESA listed. Management and conservation of Nevada’s rare and at-risk species is a key part of NDOW’s and the Service’s mission, and the Department through its Native Aquatic Species Program actively implements and supports projects for the protection and enhancement of numerous species including the relict leopard frog and other native amphibians.

The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) protects, restores and manages fish and wildlife, and promotes fishing, hunting, and boating safety. NDOW’s wildlife and habitat conservation efforts are primarily funded by sportsmen’s license and conservation fees and a federal surcharge on hunting and fishing gear. Support wildlife and habitat conservation in Nevada by purchasing a hunting, fishing, or combination license. Find us on Facebook, Twitter or visit us at www.ndow.org.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service.