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​This Tiny Endangered Frog Has Halted a Condo Development in Canada

Score one for Kermit. The government has decided to maybe not let developers destroy all of the western chorus frog's habitat.

by Ebony-Renee Baker
Jun 29 2016, 8:00pm

Cute frog, nasty finger. Photo via Wikimedia.

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This post originally appeared on VICE Canada.

Last week, Ottawa's Liberal government issued an emergency order to stop construction of a residential area in Quebec in order to save the western chorus frog, an endangered frog species.

This frog has been stirring up a lot of shit in Quebec's construction industry. Also known as Pseudacris Triseriata in scientific terms, the western chorus frog is so small it can fit on your index finger, it chirps rather than croaks, and lives underground for three seasons of the year. But the problem is that this frog's ideal habitat consists of flat damp land, or in other words, prime real estate.

So when Symbiocité, a large residential development, planned to build 1,000 units over western chorus frog habitat in La Prairie, Que., just south of Montreal, environmentalists rushed to the defense of their tiny froggy friends. After the government's emergency order last week, this development was cut by 171 units, or two square kilometers, to protect the species.

In a statement last week, Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna said that the federal government made this decision based on scientific knowledge. "We firmly believe that economic development and the protection of biodiversity can, and must, go hand in hand," she said.

This rare ban on construction was supported by the Species at Risk Act, making the western chorus frog the first species to be protected on private property, and one of the only species the federal government has protected under emergency circumstances.

This is the not the first time that people have tried to protect the chorus frog. Since Symbiocité announced their plans for development in 2013, environmentalists have been fighting construction in court.

Former environment ministers Leona Aglukkaq and Peter Kent declined previous requests for an emergency order, however McKenna revisited the issue back in December when she succeeded Kent's role.

According to the federal government, 60 percent of western chorus frog habitat has been lost in La Prairie in the last quarter century and, at this rate, the tiny amphibian could be extinct by 2030.

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