Once ubiquitous to mountain ranges in Southern California, the yellow-legged frog today is estimated to have a wild population of about 150 adults. That's according to last week's NPR story on the latest efforts to save the endangered species, which has suffered a 90% population loss since the 1970s. Reasons include fire, floods and disease, but also a change in climate.
"In the last 15 years, it has gotten warmer in the winters," Geologist and director of the James San Jacinto Mountains Reserve Becca Fenwick told NPR. "It doesn't stay cold in the same way, so the storms don't build up and create a large snowpack at this elevation."
Scientists from the San Diego Zoo this winter freed 18 tadpoles into the wild in Riverside County's San Jacinto Mountains. "The initial success that we have had with tadpole survival is very encouraging, but the real test will be how many tadpoles survived through the harsh winter," said Frank Santana, a zoo research technician.
Since 2006, the zoo's Institute for Conservation Research, along with several government partners, has been working to "establish populations of frogs back into the wild at sites where they were historically found." What that means is re-introducing them to more than 160 locations in Southern California. As of their last update, there were only nine known populations.