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Dusky Gopher Frog Faces Setback At Supreme Court

John A. Tupy, Western Carolina University
US Fish and Wildlife Service
The case involving the endangered dusky gopher frog will be kicked back to a lower court for further consideration.

The US Supreme Court has ordered a lower court to take another look at the case of the endangered dusky gopher frog and some protected habitat in Louisiana.

Fewer than 100 dusky gopher frogs are thought to be left in Mississippi. In order to survive, they need habitat with “ephemeral ponds” -- shallow ponds that regularly fill up and dry out.

The federal government found 1,500 acres that could work in Louisiana, though it would need some modifications. That land, privately owned by the company Weyerhaeuser, has been deemed “critical habitat” by the US Fish and Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act - meaning it might be crucial to the future survival of the species.

Weyerhaeuser disagreed, saying that designation would prevent it from using that land to make money, and noted that the frogs don’t even live there now.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court questioned how the term “habitat” was being applied to the frog under the Endangered Species Act. It’s also asking the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to consider whether the federal government properly weighed the economic impact on the company that owns the land.


Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Walton Family Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Foundation for Louisiana, and local listeners.

As Coastal Reporter, Travis Lux covers flood protection, coastal restoration, infrastructure, the energy and seafood industries, and the environment. In this role he's reported on everything from pipeline protests in the Atchafalaya swamp, to how shrimpers cope with low prices. He had a big hand in producing the series, New Orleans: Ready Or Not?, which examined how prepared New Orleans is for a future with more extreme weather. In 2017, Travis co-produced two episodes of TriPod: New Orleans at 300 examining New Orleans' historic efforts at flood protection. One episode, NOLA vs Nature: The Other Biggest Flood in New Orleans History, was recognized with awards from the Public Radio News Directors and the New Orleans Press Club. His stories often find a wider audience on national programs, too, like NPR's Morning Edition, WBUR's Here and Now, and WHYY's The Pulse.

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