SAN FRANCISCO— In an effort to save the threatened red-legged frog, a group of environmentalists has sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The Center for Biological Diversity accuses the EPA of ignoring the Endangered Species Act by allowing certain pesticides to remain on the market even though they are known to kill or deform the frog, according to the suit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court.
The suit claims the EPA is breaking the law by not consulting with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on how the EPA’s pesticide registration program affects threatened or endangered species.
“Ample evidence exists that pesticides are a contributing factor in the decline of the species, yet even the basic requirements of federal endangered species law have been ignored by the EPA,” said Brent Plater, attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity.
The EPA denies the allegations.
“The EPA always considers endangered species when registering pesticides,” said Leo Kay, a spokesman for the EPA’s office in San Francisco. “We take the steps necessary to ensure that sensitive animals such as red-legged frogs receive an added protection from potential exposure to chemicals.”
The red-legged frog, beloved in California thanks to Mark Twain’s tale “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” is listed as threatened under federal law. Only 10 percent of the original population remains, and only four regions have populations with more than 350 frogs.
The environmental group said it hoped to pressure the EPA to start consulting with the Fish and Wildlife Service, stop the sale of pesticides that harm the frog and promote conservation programs.