We start with the Dusky Gopher Frog. This is a subspecies of the Gopher Frog, an amphibian that gets it’s name from using burrows dug by gopher tortoises for shelter.
About Them: The Dusky Gopher Frog, a very specialized creature that used to live across, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. However, they are so specialized and sensitive they now only inhabit a few ponds in Mississippi and have recently been added to the Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge. The population in the NWR is not yet a viable breeding colony as it takes 2.5 years for a female to mature to breeding age. But, males are being heard singing during the breeding season! Hurray some success!
The habitat for this frog is very specific and not very conducive for close human neighbors. They need open coastal plains with specific longleaf-pine trees as the canopy. They need these pine trees to grow far enough apart that there is open canopy for sun to reach the ground. This means that regular fires should move through the area to clear out the under brush. This type of land is necessary for numerous other species on the Endangered Species list, seems unsurprising given this is such a complicated type of land to mush in with human development. Fire is suppressed and often forgotten as a natural phenomenon that plants and animals learned to adapt to. Additionally they need seasonal pools, which dry up during summer, there in, not supporting fish making the frog eggs safe.
Their current legal battle: They are getting notoriety because, Fish and Wildlife Services referencing the ESA law, is asking that a parcel of private and commercial land in Louisiana be designated as suitable habitat for the frog. This would only be used if the population in Mississippi finds itself under duress. Then they would ask that the land be restored to support a translocated batch of Dusky Gopher Frogs. The landowners and company are challenging the FWS because they have rights to the land for another 20 years meaning they would see a loss in revenue if they had to adhere to the necessary requirements to make the land viable for the frog.
What we should consider: If land is designated as needed for a species we currently ask that the land owner take responsibility for this burden. With so many historical changes to land it can be a lot to make land viable for an endangered species. What can we do to make the land owners incentivized to see this as a positive for their land and not a burden? Presently it really is a problem for a land owner. They find themselves with their land under restricted use, they have to put money into making it work for the species, and the overall land value may have dropped significantly.
How to help: Continue bringing awareness. Call in that we want to allow the ESA to have this reach to reallocate land. Then help change the legislation to incentivize land owners to be on board with this. Honestly it is kind of ridiculous that a land owner who may not care about animals is suddenly responsible for their needs. If enough of our communities want to see species survive we have to take on the responsibility of making that viable.
This can mean:
- donating to science groups
- helping to ensure funding to the organizations that create breeding programs
- being a citizen scientist through
- land restoration projects
- trash clean ups
- species counts
- bio blitzes
- getting people excited about how incredible our planet’s biodiversity is
Joining your local Audubon Society is a great first step into finding activities and ways to become a citizen scientist and environmental advocate.
Further Reading, my sources:
Per inktober! I used Copic markers for the frog portrait and I used a Pentel brush pen for the landscape. I’m testing my skills, I have drawn digitally all year. It’s cool to test how I feel about ink again. Although, I’m not sure I love the smell of marker yet.
[This is a blog of my opinions. I speak for myself. I am a one person team and if I have misinterpreted a fact or made an error please feel free to get in touch to correct me. I will make edits and updates to post. I would appreciate corrections to be polite. I will not engage in hate.]