Canada’s new environment minister has agreed to protect the endangered western chorus frog in Longueuil.
In a tweet Monday, environment minister Steven Guilbeault said he would recommend an emergency order for the protection of the small frogs.
“The chorus frog is listed on the endangered species list under the Species at Risk Act and the development activities underway in Longueuil, Quebec are destroying the critical habitat of this species,” he said.
The announcement comes after two Quebec environmental groups had threatened to take the federal government to court if it failed to protect the frogs from a road expansion.
Longueuil is extending Béliveau Boulevard in the Saint-Hubert borough by 300 metres to connect it to another boulevard through part of the wooded area of Du Tremblay. According to Quebec’s Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks, 20 per cent of the chorus frogs’ habitats is located there, making it the most important site the species occupies in the province.
The city built a tunnel for the frogs while it went ahead with expansion plans for the boulevard.
It’s not clear how the emergency order would affect Longueuil’s expansion project.
Residents had launched a petition with nearly 6,500 signatures, calling for a public inquiry to understand how the boulevard extension project was able to go forward, despite authorities being aware of chorus frogs’ breeding ponds in the region.
While the species’ numbers are secure globally, the population in Canada’s Great Lakes-St. Lawrence lowlands-Canadian Shield region has been listed as threatened since 2010, and current estimates suggest up to 90 per cent of its habitat has been lost in recent decades.
The western chorus frog breeds in small, often temporary wetlands that are increasingly threatened by agriculture and urban sprawl. Adults grow to a maximum length of less than four centimetres.