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.
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