Proposed bill would aid global amphibian conservation

By Allison Scott, AWB®

The U.S. House of Representatives is considering a bill to enhance international conservation efforts for at-risk amphibian species, like this Puerto Rican crested toad (Bufo lemur). Credit: Jan Paul Zegarra/USFWS

The U.S. House of Representatives is considering legislation that would support international amphibian conservation efforts.

The bill — the “Global Amphibian Protection Act” — would authorize $5 million annually to the U.S. Department of the Interior, which would then allocate the funding to various international conservation efforts for at-risk amphibian species. The department would administer those grants through a “Highly Endangered Amphibian Species Conservation Fund” as part of the Multinational Species Conservation Funds. Foreign wildlife management authorities and other groups with demonstrated experience conserving amphibians would be eligible to apply.

Amphibians face a myriad of threats globally, including a deadly fungal disease, changes in temperature and stream flow due to climate change, and physical barriers such as road crossings. The grant program would support international efforts to restore and manage habitat, conduct population research and monitoring, and develop national and regional management plans.

“Amphibians serve a critical role in many ecosystems around the world, but the rapidly increasing extinction crisis is threatening nearly 70% of these valued species,” said U.S. Representative Jared Huffman (D-CA) in a press release. “We must act quickly to ensure a future planet that is as rich in biodiversity as it is today, and this bill to restart important species-saving activities is an important step to save amphibians on the brink of extinction.”

Rep. Huffman was part of a bipartisan effort to introduce the bill, along with Reps. Hakeen Jeffries (D-NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL). They introduced the legislation in advance of World Frog Day, which is celebrated annually on March 20.

Dozens of organizations have expressed their support for the bill, including the Amphibian Survival Alliance, Association of Zoos and Aquariums, International Crane Foundation and Wildlife Conservation Society.

“Amphibians around the world are under serious threat from disease, pollution and the long-term changes in temperature from the global climate crisis,” said John Calvelli, Wildlife Conservation Society Executive Vice President of Public Affairs. “I am grateful to Representatives Hakeem Jeffries, Brian Fitzpatrick, Jared Huffman and Vern Buchanan for reintroducing the Global Amphibians Protection Act, which will restart an important source of funding to conserve amphibian species in decline or most at risk of extinction,” he said.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service previously administered the Amphibians in Decline Fund, which supported amphibian conservation efforts in 25 countries from 2010 to 2016. But that program ended when funding ran out. Advocates for the new legislation hope that the new program will allow important amphibian conservation efforts to restart or expand.

Read TWS’ Position Statements on Conserving Biological Diversity and Global Climate Change and Wildlife.

Learn more about international wildlife conservation from the TWS International Wildlife Management Working Group.