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Bullfrog The non-native bullfrog (above) preys on Chiricahua leopard frogs. Credit: Bill Leonard/USGS
In 2002 the species was federally-listed as "threatened". A "threatened" species is a species that is likely to become endangered (in danger of extinction) within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range. Learn more about threatened and endangered species.

The most serious threats to the Chiricahua leopard frog include:

  • Predation by introduced (non-native) species, especially bullfrogs, fishes, and crayfish.
  • Chytridomycosis (or “Bd”) — a fungal skin disease that is killing frogs and toads around the globe.

Other threats include:

  • habitat loss and degradation ,
  • drought,
  • floods,
  • wildfires,
  • water diversions and groundwater pumping,
  • disruption of metapopulation dynamics (relationships among populations of frogs),
  • increased chance of extirpation or extinction resulting from small numbers of populations and individuals, and
  • environmental contamination

Predation by Introduced Species

American bullfrogs, a variety of predacious sport fishes, crayfish, and barred tiger salamanders are introduced predators that are very efficient at preying upon and may eliminate Chiricahua leopard frogs.  This and the disease chytridiomycosis are the greatest threats to the frog.


This apparently introduced fungal skin disease, also known as “Bd”, is killing frogs and toads around the globe, and has caused the decline or extinction of about 200 species worldwide. Bd was first detected in the Southwest in 1972, at about the same time that the first declines of ranid frogs were noted. The disease is widespread within the range of the Chiricahua leopard frog, but some populations appear unaffected or have not been exposed, while other populations are either quickly eliminated once the disease manifests or persist long-term (some more than 30 years) with Bd. Populations seem to persist better with the disease where the water is warmer (low elevation sites or warm springs).

Habitat Loss and Degradation

Habitats degraded due to water diversions and groundwater pumping, poor livestock management, catastrophic wild fire resulting from a long history of fire suppression, mining, development, and other human activities. Environmental contamination, such as runoff from mining operations and airborne contaminants from copper smelters have also adversely affected habitats and populations.

Other Factors

With the loss of populations, particularly large populations that occurred in rivers and valley bottom ciénegas (mid-elevation wetland communities often surrounded by arid environments) and were probably source populations for nearby aquatic sites, metapopulation dynamics have been disrupted. There is also an increased chance of extirpation or extinction due to the dynamics of small populations existing in aquatic systems that are subject to drying, floods, fire, and other disturbances.

Last updated: October 23, 2008