Kemberlee Kaye at Legal Insurrection has put together a great piece detailing Obomba-era overreach by the Fish & Wildlife Service on behalf of a frog. Hmmm…the feds using frogs to restrict property rights…where have we heard that before?
I can’t improve on Ms. Kaye’s take so I’ll leave and excerpt here and encourage you to check out her post:
Protecting endangered species is part of the function of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, but a recent string of court decisions, based on a classic sue-and-settle case, has given the agency virtually unlimited power. And it’s all thanks to a frog.
The dusky gopher frog (previously known as Mississippi Gopher Frog) was designated as endangered in 2001 as a result of a settlement of litigation brought by the Center for Biological Diversity. There were only 100 adult frogs known to exist in the wild. In 2007, the Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of Mississippi Public Lands filed against the Fish & Wildlife Service to designate critical habitat for the frog, resulting in a settlement where the Service was to submit a rule designating critical habitat. That rule came in 2010, designating 1,957 acres in Mississippi as critical habitat for the frog.
Then, one year later, the Fish & Wildlife Service stripped the critical habitat, expanding it to 6,477 acres—stretching across two states, including four counties in Mississippi and one parish in Louisiana.
If at this point you’re reading with furrowed brow, you’re not alone. You see, the frog hadn’t been seen in Louisiana since 1965. Since that time, it has only been spotted in Mississippi. Nonetheless, the 5th Circuit upheld 1,544 acres in Louisiana as “critical habitat” essential for the preservation of the species— despite the fact that this area (described as “Unit 1”) satisfied none of the criteria expected of the frog’s habitat.
This area lacked small, isolated “ephemeral ponds” embedded in open canopy forest, which were essential for breeding. It also lacked open canopy forest close to breeding ponds but upland to serve as non-breeding habitat, maintained by fires frequent enough to support an open canopy and open herbaceous ground cover. And finally, it lacked upland habitat connecting breeding and non-breeding grounds to allow movement—again with abundant native herbaceous species of groundcover produced by frequent fires.
The land is in no way qualified to serve as an effective “critical habitat” for the frog, and yet the federal government is hellbent on swiping it up anyway.