Dusky Gopher Frog Gets 170 Acres In Agreement With Mississippi Developer

May 18, 2015

The dusky gopher frog  (Rana sevosa) has been allotted more than 170 acres of land in southern Mississippi as protected habitat after years of wrangling between the landowner, Columbus Communities and the Mississippi Chapter of the Sierra Club, Gulf Restoration Network, and the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain.

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Critical Habitat Of Dusky Gopher Frog Challenged

More Than 6,500 Acres Of Land Set Aside As Mississippi Gopher Frog Habitat

Mississippi gopher frog

Glen Johnson/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

 The dusky gopher frog population in the wild is currently estimated at 100 individuals as of 2011.

In an agreement signed May 14, the Land Trust will take ownership of the property, (which is in the GulfPort region of the state), from Columbus Communities, a home builder. The Land Trust will protect the frog on the property as well as its longleaf pine habitat. 

"Dusky gopher frogs desperately needed this good news to survive," Collette Adkins, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. "We were concerned that development so close to the frog's essential breeding habitat could have driven the species extinct. I'm glad that the developer and the conservation community worked together to protect this area and give us real hope for the survival of this frog."

The 170 acres is among about 5,000 acres of public and private land situated in four southern Mississippi counties that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service designated as critical habitat in 2012.

The habitat of the dusky gopher frog includes longleaf pine ecosystems where it can be found in tree stump holes and burrows made by gopher tortoises, a threatened species. The frog's native habitat included southwest Alabama, southern Mississippi and southeast Louisiana. It has since only been found at Glen's Pond in Mississippi and in nearby Pony Ranch Pond in Louisiana. The dusky gopher frog population in the wild is currently estimated at 100 individuals as of 2011. There are approximately 1,500 gopher frogs in zoos, the result of a captive breeding effort at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska.

John B. Virata keeps a western hognose snake, a ball python, two corn snakes, a kingsnake, and two leopard geckos. His first snake, a California kingsnake, was purchased at the Pet Place in Westminster, CA for $5. His first pet reptile was a green anole that arrived in a small box via mail order. Follow him on Twitter @johnvirata 


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