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Long Island a possible home for endangered northern cricket frog, state officials say

A Northern Cricket Frog sits on a lily

A Northern Cricket Frog sits on a lily pad in a pond in Chesterfield County on June 11, 2014. Credit: AP / P. Kevin Morley

State environmental officials released a plan Monday to bolster the endangered northern cricket frog in New York that includes possibly reintroducing the tiny critters to Long Island.

Populations of northern cricket frogs have been declining in as many as 17 states and have not been found on Long Island since the 1930s.

The management plan, released by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, focuses on returning and recovering the population as well as protecting it in the future.

"Conservation of the northern cricket frog and its habitat is important to conserving New York's biodiversity and unique character," DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in a news release.

Named for their mating call that resembles the chirp of a cricket, the frogs grow to about 1 inch and can jump up to 6 feet.

With a plan in place, officials will conduct surveys to find existing populations, likely next May and June during mating season, said DEC wildlife biologist Gregg Kenney.

Specific areas where the state may decide to reintroduce the population have not been identified but the surveys will look at places where the frogs lived previously.

Those areas include Long Island and New York City; two areas around the Hudson River and in parts of Dutchess and Columbia counties near the Taconic foothills.

The plan also calls for monitoring populations, working with landowners that may have good cricket frog habitats and biological research that would point to key recovery needs.

"Really, what this does is identifies what we can do to recover the cricket frogs in the state of New York," Kenney said.

It's unclear what led to the decline of the frogs, though habitat loss, polluted waterways, climate change, invasive species and disease have been cited as possible causes.

The plan seeks to reverse a downward population trend and increase the number of frogs and the locations where they live, Martens said.

In the 1990s, northern cricket frogs were found at 26 sites in the state. Later research conducted between 2009 and 2011 documented the frogs at only seven of those sites, according to the DEC plan.

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