Fabled frog

On its last legs?

Published: Monday 31 October 2005

-- (Credit: Fish and wildlife service)The inspiration behind Mark Twain's fable, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County", may be facing a serious threat to its existence. A federal judge in San Francisco has asked the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to investigate if 66 pesticides commonly used in agriculture are endangering the California red-legged frog.

US district judge Jeffrey White told EPA to consult biologists over the issue. Environmentalists allege the pesticides are harming the frog, whose population has shrunk to 30 per cent.

Listed as a threatened species in 1996, the California red-legged frog is the largest frog native to the western US. Females are larger than males, about 5.5 inches (about 14 centimetres) versus 4.5 inches (about 11 cm). The adults usually have red legs. The amphibian is found in coastal California, the Sierra Nevada foothills, the Central Valley and other wet areas.

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