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Arroyo toad habitat to be protected

SAN DIEGO, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it plans to designate more than 100,000 acres in Southern California as "critical habitat" for the arroyo toad.

That is an almost 10-fold increase from the acreage the service announced in 2005, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. The announcement settles litigation by the Center for Biological Diversity, which filed a lawsuit seeking more territory for the endangered toad.

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"Once a common species in Southern California, the arroyo toad has lost 75 percent of its historic range," said Noah Greenwald, the center's endangered species program director.

The toads, which grow to be no more than 2 to 3 inches long, prefer the banks of swift rivers and streams and nearby upland for breeding and feeding. The wildlife service plan calls for critical habitat in seven counties across Southern California, including San Diego County.

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