Four Populations of Foothill Yellow-Legged Frog Listed as Endangered or Threatened Under Federal Endangered Species Act

Downey Brand LLP

On August 31, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) issued a final rule listing four distinct population segments (DPSs) of foothill yellow-legged frog (Rana boylii) under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). The foothill yellow-legged frog lives in streams throughout California and Oregon, but the four DPSs identified are all located in California (see Figure below). Citing negative impacts from non-native species, altered hydrology due to dams, and the effects of climate change, among other things, USFWS determined that the South Sierra and South Coast DPSs of the frog meet the definition of an endangered species (in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range) under the ESA, and the North Feather and Central Coast DPSs of the frog meet the definition for threatened species (likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range) with rules for the threatened DPSs issued under Section 4(d).

USFWS will designate critical habitat for the listed DPSs within the next 12 months. With the listing of yellow-legged frog, the ESA’s many protections will extend to the species. For example, it will be illegal for anyone to “take” the frog—e.g., harm, harass, or kill—even if such take is incidental to an otherwise legal activity. Anyone wishing to proceed with a legal activity that may take the frog will be required to obtain an incidental take permit or authorization under Sections 7 or 10 of the federal ESA. The effective date for the final rule is September 28, 2023.

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