|The Mountain-Prairie Region|
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
ENDANGERED WYOMING TOAD MAKES PROGRESS
The just completed annual census of the endangered Wyoming toad located 156 individuals, including 18 adult animals and 138 yearlings, up from just 45 individuals in June of 1998. These small amphibians managed to survive the rigors of the Laramie Basin's harsh winter after being reintroduced into the wild from a captive-bred population. The searches, conducted at Mortenson Lake and Hutton Lake National Wildlife Refuges, were a cooperative effort conducted by personnel from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the University of Wyoming, and interested volunteers. "We find these survey results encouraging. The toad is by no means out of the woods, but hopefully the populations will increase through natural reproduction supported by continued reintroduction efforts, " said Mike Long, Field Supervisor of the Services Wyoming Field Office. "This has been a cooperative effort from the beginning, and everyone involved should be proud of the accomplishments. I am particularly grateful to the local landowners who continue to work with us to secure the Mortenson Lake population of toads," added Long.
The Wyoming toad, discovered by Dr. George Baxter in 1946 and listed as endangered in 1984, inhabited the floodplains of the Big and Little Laramie Rivers and the margins of ponds and small seepage lakes throughout the basin. However, sightings of wild toads since 1987 have been limited to a 2 square mile area containing Mortenson Lake. The Wyoming Toad Recovery Plan outlines measures to protect the Wyoming toad population and habitat at the Mortenson Lake site. These measures are in place only through the cooperative efforts of the various agencies and private landowners. The Service, with the assistance of The Nature Conservancy, has acquired the majority of the existing toad habitat at Mortenson Lake.
The Recovery Plan also calls for reestablishment of toad populations within the historical range through reintroductions of captive-bred animals. Currently, nine facilities (including seven zoos, the Services Saratoga National Fish Hatchery, and Wyoming Game and Fish Department's Sybille Wildlife Research Unit) are participating in captive-rearing of Wyoming toads, producing tadpoles and toadlets for use in future reintroductions. The breeding season is currently in full-swing and has gone well so far at Sybille and the other facilities. Tadpoles and toadlets from this captive-breeding season are scheduled for release at the reintroduction sites later this summer.
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