US tags tiny Puerto Rico frog as endangered

A Puerto Rican frog about the size of a peanut has received federal protection, ending a long battle to list it as an endangered species.

The habitat of the coquí llanero also received protection, covering 615 acres (249 hectares) of freshwater wetland in northern Puerto Rico.


Wednesday’s announcement comes two years after the non-profit, Florida-based Center for Biological Diversity sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service so it would respond to a 2007 petition seeking to have the frog classified as an endangered species. The FWS proposed the designation in October 2011.

Its new designation now means that it is illegal to kill, harm or capture the frog.

The coquí llanero was discovered in 2005, and its eggs have only been found on the bulltongue arrowhead plant. It is one of 17 coquí species.

The coquí llanero has a call with such a high-pitched frequency that it can barely be heard. The FWS has said scientists do not have even a rough estimate of how many coquí llaneros exist in the wild.

Most of the critical habitat designation, roughly 518 acres, is located in a wetland within the closed Sabana Seca Naval Base and adjacent open military lands in Toa Baja. Managed by the U.S. Department of Defense, this area is identified for residential development. The remaining 97 acres of the wetland designation are managed by the commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

The endangered species designation means that the Puerto Rico government and U.S. Department of Defense would have to consult with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service before any development is approved.

As the demand to revitalize towns and transform impacted lands into productive areas increases, the FWS is seeking to protect and restore the lands that are most important to the coqui llanero’s’ survival while responsibly promoting sustainable development for the benefit of the public.