A U.S. judge here is ordering authorities to study whether 66 pesticides commonly used in agribusiness are jeopardizing the California red-legged frog, believed to be the namesake of Mark Twain's fabled short story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County."
Judge Jeffrey White ruled Monday that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must "consult" with biologists to determine whether, as environmentalists allege, the pesticides are harming the frog, which has lost about 70 percent of its numbers and was listed as a threatened species in 1996.
The amphibian lives along coastal areas of California, the Sierra Nevada foothills, the Central Valley and other wet areas. The California red-legged frog is the largest frog native to the western United States. Females are larger than males, about 5.5 inches (14 centimeters) versus 4.5 inches (11.5 centimeters). The adults usually have red legs.
The EPA said in a statement it disagreed with the decision and was reviewing its options. White ordered the government and the Center for Biological Diversity, which brought the suit, to agree to a time when the studies should be complete, AP reports.