5,000 Tadpoles Released to Create a New Population of Crested Toads
On Thursday, November 17, 2005, 5,000 Crested Toad tadpoles were released at the Manglillo area of the Guánica Dry Forest. Until now the species was not present at this site. The release will expand the distribution of the species. Arrival of the tadpoles at the release site took 32 hours to complete and was quite an ordeal. Tadpoles from adult toads reproduced in captivity at the Fort Worth Zoo in Texas began their journey to Puerto Rico at 8:00 a.m. the day before their release. The tadpoles traveled in special boxes for live cargo and were inspected by Customs in Atlanta. Personnel of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service picked-up the tadpoles at the Luís Muñoz Marín airport and at 5:00 pm the tadpoles were at the Guánica Dry Forest ready for release.
Service Personnel was very careful to acclimate the tadpoles to the new environment by placing them in a pool built exclusively for the release of Crested Toads. Within 21 days from released tadpoles will transform into small toads and colonized the forest.
Present at the event were personnel from state and federal agencies involved in the recovery of the species, along with members of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association and the Waltz Disney World Company which is a new partner investigating nutrition and some diseases of the species.
The release program has been operating for 12 years with an estimated 160,000 tadpoles released into the wild. Silmarie Padrón, biologist for the Fishing and Wildlife Service explained "It is hard to quantify how many tadpoles actually make it to adulthood but we know the population is increasing and the program is working. We have data of wild crested toads recently reproducing.”
The program is ready to expand to other areas of Puerto Rico. During the past weekend the recovery team visited potential release sites in the south and north of Puerto Rico. We expect to release crested toads in protected areas of Arecibo and Coamo. For the recovery of the species it is vital to establish three populations in the south of Puerto Rico and three in the north. The crested toad is the only native toad of Puerto Rico and unfortunately it is often confused with the common toad.
Recovery efforts are supported by the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the American Zoo and Aquariums Association, academic institutions and Ciudadanos del Karso.
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