Rare, dime-size Puerto Rican frog protected under Endangered Species Act

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla/October 3, 2012 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today the protection of a rare Puerto Rican frog, the coquí llanero, as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. The protection also includes 615 acres of freshwater wetland in northern Puerto Rico where this species can be found.

Endangered Coqui ilanero

Coqui ilanero © USFWS

The decision is a result of a law suit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity when the Service failed to respond to the petition by the Caribbean Primate Research Center to protect the coquí and its habitat.

This 15 mm long frog was discovered in 2005 and is one of 16 coquí found only in Puerto Rico. It resides only in freshwater wetland areas and “despite its relative rarity, the coquí’s presence in this [designated] wetland is significant. It indicates a healthy wetland that helps a variety of species survive, gives protection against flooding and recharges groundwater,” said Jaclyn Lopez, an attorney with the Center of Biological Diversity. “The coqui is extremely isolated and depends on a delicately balanced wetland, so critical habitat protection is essential to its survival.”

The reason for the coquí llanero’s limited range is believed to be improper and inadequate land use which includes urban development, a go-kart track and a landfill. Moreover, this species will be further threatened by the planned construction, operation and maintenance of the 92-mile-long liquefied natural gas pipeline in Sebana Seca, Toa Baja – the designated freshwater wetland site – as this pipeline may affect the natural drainage body of the wetland ecosystem.

“Lifesaving Endangered Species Act protections will help stave off mounting threats to the coquí’s limited habitat,” said Lopez.

The common coquí, whose name comes from the male frog’s iconic singing-call “ko-kee,” is a cultural symbol of Puerto Rico.

Source: The Center for Biological Diversity