Amphibians and Chemical Pesticides

Various discussions related to Chemical Pesticides, Herbicides, Etc.

Amphibians and Chemical Pesticides

Postby adminjt » Sat Dec 18, 2010 4:06 pm

Agency suing feds over frog pesticide threat

Dana M. Nichols
By Dana M. Nichols
Record Staff Writer
December 18, 2010 12:00 AM

SAN ANDREAS - The Center For Biological Diversity this week announced it is filing suit to force federal officials to devise regulations for 64 pesticides that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined pose a threat to the endangered red-legged frog.

The pesticides include a wide variety of compounds that are important to agriculture in the region or used in home yards and gardens. They include glyphosate, the main ingredient in the herbicide Roundup; permethrin, used as an insect repellent and in topical treatments for scabies; and a variety of agricultural pesticides including 2,4-D, Aldicarb, Atrazine, Diazinon and Malathion.

The pesticides are already regulated by the EPA, and there are temporary restrictions on their use near red-legged frog habitat under the terms of a 2006 settlement of an earlier lawsuit. Two pesticides included in that lawsuit are no longer produced.
Learn more

See a list of 66 pesticides the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined pose a danger to California's red-legged frog (two are no longer produced). The website also has links to detailed reports on each of the pesticides.

Go to:

That settlement also required the EPA to assess the risk the pesticides pose to the frogs and then for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to consult with the EPA and come up with whatever regulations are needed to protect the frog. The EPA did its part and by 2009 sent its findings to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The new lawsuit points out that the Fish and Wildlife Service missed its deadlines for finishing the work and seeks a court order to get it done.

Sarah Swenty, a spokeswoman for the Sacramento office of the Fish and Wildlife Service, declined to comment on the case because of the pending lawsuit.

"I can tell you that in general we do our best to meet deadlines, but due to limited resources, it is not always possible," Swenty said.

Bruce Blodgett, executive director of the San Joaquin County Farm Bureau, said he doubts the lawsuit will do anything to further restrict pesticides.

"The problem here isn't a safety issue with the pesticides," Blodgett said. "The Fish and Wildlife Service for some reason can't seem to talk to the Environmental Protection Agency when the Environmental Protection Agency registers a chemical."

"This is getting to be an old, old story," Blodgett said. "These are the most safe chemicals that you can possibly get."

Center for Biological Diversity Conservation advocate Jeff Miller, in contrast, said he believes federal officials can and should do more to regulate the pesticides.

"The EPA acknowledges that scores of pesticides may be dangerous to California's rare red-legged frogs, but nothing's been done about it," Miller said in a written statement. "This three-year delay violates the Endangered Species Act and jeopardizes the future of the largest native frog in California."

Contact reporter Dana M. Nichols at (209) 607-1361 or Visit his blog at
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Lizard Proposed for Endangered List, Wolverine, Tortoise wai

Postby adminjt » Sat Dec 18, 2010 5:14 pm

Lizard Proposed for Endangered List, Wolverine, Tortoise Must Wait ... 3-091.html

WASHINGTON, DC, December 13, 2010 (ENS) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed to list the dunes sagebrush lizard as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The Service has also determined that critical habitat for the dunes sagebrush lizard is "prudent," but "not determinable" at this time.

But the wolverine and the Sonoran desert tortoise, two other species the Service also said warrant protection as endangered, were not proposed for listing. They were just added to the long list of more than 250 candidate species awaiting Endangered Species Act protection.
The dunes sagebrush lizard is camouflaged against the sandy soil of its habitat. (Photo by Mike Hill courtesy USFWS)

The dunes sagebrush lizard, Sceloporus graciosus arenicolus, faces "immediate and significant threats due to oil and gas activities, and herbicide treatments," the Service said in its determination.

The small, light brown lizard is native to a small area of shinnery oak dunes in southeastern New Mexico and adjacent west Texas. Habitat loss and fragmentation due to oil and gas development is a measurable factor impacting the species due to the removal of shinnery oak and creation of roads and pads, pipelines, and power lines.

Shinnery oak through much of the lizard's range was sprayed with herbicide to clear the land for cattle grazing, and the lizards are now extinct at these locations. Oil industry activities in the dunes allow mesquite to invade areas where shinnery oak and lizards once were found. While herbicide spraying has been outlawed in the lizard's New Mexico habitat, development for the oil industry continues.

The Service is requesting comments or information from the public, other government agencies, Native American tribes, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested parties concerning this proposed rule by February 14, 2011. Submit comments at the federal rulemaking portal: Search for docket FWS-R2-ES-2010-0041 and follow instructions for submitting comments.

Protection for two other species whose fate was determined today was determined to be "warrented" but "precluded."

Wolverines found in the lower 48 states warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act, due to the impact of climate warming on their alpine habitat but a rulemaking to propose the species for protection is "precluded by the need to address other higher priority species," the Service announced today.
Wolverine playing in the snow (Photo by Steve Kroschel USFWS Mountain Prairie Region)

"The threats to the wolverine are long-term due to the impacts of climate change on their denning habitat, especially important to assist the species in successfully reproducing," said Steve Guertin, the Service's director of the Mountain-Prairie Region. "If we work with state and other partners to help the wolverine now, we may be able to counter the long-term impacts of climate change on their habitat and keep them from becoming endangered."

The wolverine, Gulo gulo, was likely extirpated from the lower 48 states during the early 20th century and has re-established populations by moving down from Canada into the North Cascades Range of Washington and the Northern Rocky Mountains of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, the Service said in a statement.

Deep snow is required for successful wolverine reproduction because female wolverines dig elaborate dens in the snow to protect wolverine kits from predators as well as harsh alpine winters.

Data and analysis requested from the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group and the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station predict a reduction of wolverines' cold and snowy habitat of 63 percent by 2099.

The Service's made its wolverine determination in response to a petition filed July 14, 2000, by the Biodiversity Legal Foundation, Predator Conservation Alliance, Defenders of Wildlife, Northwest Ecosystem Alliance, Friends of the Clearwater, and Superior Wilderness Action Network.

On March 11, 2008, the Service published a 12-month finding that listing of the wolverine in the contiguous United States was "not warranted." In response to litigation, the Service agreed to revisit its previous determination and issue a new 12-month finding by December 1, 2010. This finding alters the previous determination.
Sonoran desert tortoise in Arizona's Black Mountains (Photo by Audrey)

The Sonoran desert tortoise warrants listing under the Endangered Species Act, but protection is precluded due to higher priorities, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar decided today in a determination that will be published in the December 14 Federal Register.

Secretary Salazar made the listing determination in response to an October 2008 petition submitted by WildEarth Guardians and Western Watersheds Project, as well as multiple rounds of litigation to force the decision.

The groups have warned the federal government that this desert dwelling tortoise cannot afford further delay in its protection. Their petition showed that monitored tortoise populations have declined by more than 51 percent since the government originally refused it protection two decades ago.

"The Sonoran desert tortoise can survive heat, drought, scarce food and water, and a multitude of predators, but it cannot tolerate further delays in its protection," said Mark Salvo of WildEarth Guardians. "Secretary Salazar needs to make up for lost time and actually grant these highly imperiled creatures much-needed federal safeguards."

The Sonoran desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii, lives in southwest Arizona and northern Mexico. In his finding, Salazar determined that Sonoran desert tortoises qualify for protection as a distinct population, different from other tortoises found in the Mojave Desert west of the Colorado River that were federally listed in 1990.

The Black Mountains north of Flagstaff, Arizona, are inhabited by the only Mojave desert tortoise population found east of the Colorado River. They were excluded from federal protection in 1990 when the Service opted to limit protection of Mojave desert tortoises to those found west of the Colorado River.

In his finding, Secretary Salazar determined that the Sonoran desert tortoises may be threatened by all five factors the agency uses in deciding whether a species qualifies for Endangered Species Act protection: 1) habitat loss and destruction; 2) overutilization; 3) disease or predation; 4) inadequate legal protections; and 5) other factors. Under the Act, the tortoise needs only to qualify under one of these factors to warrant listing.

The conservation groups point out that many of the 251 species on the candidate list have been there for a decade or more. Outside of Hawaii, Secretary Salazar has listed only four new U.S. species under the Act.

The Endangered Species Act makes it illegal to kill, harm or otherwise take a listed species, or to possess, import, export or engage in interstate or international commerce of a listed species without a permit from the Service. The Act requires all federal agencies to minimize the impact of their activities on listed species and directs the Service to work with federal agencies and other partners to develop and carry out recovery efforts for those species.
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Lab pesticide tests 'fundamentally flawed': biologist

Postby adminjt » Tue Dec 28, 2010 10:48 pm

May 6, 2010

Vancouver Sun

Lab pesticide tests 'fundamentally flawed': biologist

Okanagan Valley amphibians suffer toxic effects of pesticides at levels considered safe by federal standards

By Larry Pynn,

Pesticides are having a toxic effect on amphibians even at concentrations substantially lower than federal allowable levels, a study in the southern Okanagan Valley has found.

Alexandra de Jong Westman, a biologist with Vernon-based Summit Environmental Consultants Ltd., said the results emphasize the inadequacies of current regulations, including accepted standards for lab testing that fall short of field conditions.

"All the pesticide regulations in Canada are based on lab results," she said in an interview. "There is a fundamental flaw in that."

De Jong Westman is scheduled to address more than 250 people attending the annual conference of the Association of Professional Biologists of B.C. being held today through Saturday in Kelowna.

Her findings are based on two years of lab studies and four years of field work involving the Pacific tree or chorus frog and great basin spadefoot in the southern Okanagan between Penticton and Osoyoos, on the Canada-U.S. border.

It is one of Canada's most endangered landscapes for wildlife due to habitat loss from human development, including agriculture and vineyards.

With funding from the Canadian Wildlife Service, de Jong Westman studied pesticide levels in agriculture irrigation ponds susceptible to pesticide run-off, the amount varying based on the season, the pest and the crop.

When she duplicated the highest levels under ideal lab conditions -- only one pesticide in purified water, stable temperature, no predators and no ultraviolet light -- she found toxic effects on amphibians well below federal limits.

She said pesticide regulations are based on short-term lab results, not those in the field where toxicity can be much higher due to long-term exposure and the potential for more than one pesticide or contaminant to increase toxicity.

De Jong Westman said that based on LC50 tests she performed in 2007 on American bullfrogs -- an introduced species that tends to be found in ponds less polluted than those of native species -- the allowable limit for amphibians for the pesticide endosulfan is about 7.74 milligrams per litre.

An LC50 test determines the amount of pesticide required to kill 50 per cent of test animals over four days.

During the eight-day period of growth from egg to tadpole in her latest work, she found that endosulfan -- a controversial organochlorine and endocrine disrupter that's banned in Europe and some U.S. states, but not in Canada -- caused morphological and physiological changes.

At 60,000 nanograms per litre, or just 0.06 milligrams, it caused kinking in the tail and loss of pigmentation in tadpoles. The latter would make them more vulnerable to predation in a brown pond environment.

Even trace amounts of endosulfan caused excitability in tadpoles, the condition worsening with the amount of pesticide added to the water.

"We cannot expect to manage a species or habitat from lab results when there is more going on in the field, making the allowable standard highly toxic," she said.

Exposure to ultraviolet light in the field can also worsen the toxic effects of pesticides like endosulfan, she said.

"Europe is so far ahead of us," de Jong Westman said. "Endosulfan is way more toxic than initially known."

Frogs and other amphibians face a host of threats beyond pesticides that include habitat loss and fragmentation, invasive species, increased ultraviolet radiation and predation.

Several species in B.C. are officially red-listed as endangered or threatened, including the tiger salamander, Pacific giant salamander, Rocky Mountain tailed frog, northern leopard frog and Oregon spotted frog.

Blue-listed amphibians of "special concern" include the great basin spadefoot, coastal tailed frog and red-legged frog.

Based on a re-evaluation of endosulfan, Health Canada last year issued several risk mitigation measures:

- Additional protective equipment;

- Reduced rates and numbers of applications for some crops;

- Removal of several crops from product labels (alfalfa, clover, sunflower, spinach, succulent beans, succulent peas);

- Additional advisory label statements and buffer zones to reduce potential surface-water contamination.
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Vancouver Sun Files / Frogs and other amphibians face a host of threats in B.C.
Photograph by: Glenn Baglo, Vancouver Sun ... story.html

Alexandra de Jong Westman ... stman.html

Summit Environmental Consultants Ltd
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