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The Mountain-Prairie Region


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228


September 10, 2001

Contact: Mary Jennings, 307- 772-2374


During August 2001, the survey of Mortenson Lake a total of 196 Wyoming toads were found; few of these animals were adults. Though the number may seem large to some, it is lower than what the cooperating agencies would like to see. This year alone, more than 8,000 animals were released to Mortenson Lake from captive breeding facilities. The low numbers at the survey indicate that survival is low. During the fall 1999 survey, a total of 492 toads were found. The Wyoming toad population at Mortenson Lake started showing signs of decline in 2000. The pathogenic amphibian chytrid fungus was confirmed at the site by Dr. Allan Pessier, a renown chytrid expert. This fungus has been implicated in amphibian declines and die-offs worldwide.

The annual fall survey for the Wyoming toad was held August 31, 2001. Representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Wyoming Natural Diversity Database, University of Wyoming, Natural Resource Conservation Service and the U.S. Geological Survey took part in the survey. In addition, many interested citizens aided the agencies. Approximately 25 people participated in the efforts to survey for North America’s most endangered amphibian.

The effort to restore the Wyoming toad in the wild is a cooperative program. Three programs within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service participate. In addition, the Wyoming Game and Fish, University of Wyoming, Wyoming Natural Diversity Database, Natural Resource Conservation Service, the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Illinois Zoological Pathology Program, interested citizens, and local landowners participate in recovery efforts.

Despite the current numbers and the presence of the fungus, the cooperating agencies are hopeful that the toad will recover. Research is currently being conducted on nutrition and the chytrid fungus and looks to provide the answers to long-standing questions. Planning for more research is currently underway. Armed with new information and the already successful captive breeding program the toad’s chance to recover improves.

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