Justices hop into case of endangered dusky gopher frog

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court says it will take up a dispute over Louisiana timberland that the federal government called critical habitat for an endangered frog found only in Mississippi.

The justices agreed Monday to review a lower-court ruling that upheld a federal agency's designation of the 1,500-acre tract owned by the Weyerhaeuser Co. and others as the only potential breeding ground outside Mississippi for dusky gopher frogs.

The frog spends most of its life underground and travels to above-ground ponds only to breed.

The Pacific Legal Foundation has called the designation an "unprecedented abuse of the Endangered Species Act," since the frogs haven't lived in Louisiana since 1965 and couldn't live there again without changes to the land. The foundation represents other landowners in the same litigation.

But Collette Adkins, an attorney for the conservation group Center for Biological Diversity, called on the court to uphold the designation. "The Fish and Wildlife Service followed the unanimous advice of frog experts in deciding to protect essential habitat of these critically endangered frogs," Adkins said.

Published: Fri, Jan 26, 2018