Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Mountain-Prairie Region
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

March 19, 2010


Contacts: Jan McKee:  772.772.2374 ext.242;

                Leith Edgar: 303.236.4588;


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announces Endangered Species Recovery Champion Awards for Wyoming toad conservation


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Acting Director Rowan Gould today announced the 18 recipients of the Service’s 2009 Recovery Champion award. Three Service biologists were acknowledged for their conservation efforts on behalf of the Wyoming (Bufo [Anaxyrus] baxteri), one of the most endangered amphibians in North America.


“The Recovery Champion award both recognizes the exceptional conservation accomplishments of its honorees and highlights the importance of strong and diverse partnerships in species conservation,” said Gould.  “Recovery Champions are helping imperiled species regain their place in the natural resources fabric of our country while focusing attention on the importance of conserving our nation’s biological heritage for future generations.”


The Recovery Champion award recognizes U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees and their partners for contributions to the recovery of threatened and endangered species in the United States. The 2009 Recovery Champion honorees are working to benefit a range of endangered and threatened plants and animals.  From whooping cranes to mussels, Service employees and partners such as universities, conservation agencies, and private organizations are devoting their resources to a shared mission.  Habitat restoration, public awareness campaigns, and species’ monitoring programs are just a few examples of this year’s Recovery Champion honorees’ efforts.


The state of the Wyoming toad has improved drastically since 1984 when the species was thought to be extinct in the wild. Today, the species is on the road to recovery thanks in part to the work of Lee Bender, project leader of Saratoga National Fish Hatchery; Dave Paddock, a biologist at Saratoga; and Jason Palmer, a biologist at the Wyoming Ecological Services Field Office. The Service biologists worked with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Wyoming Toad Species Survival Plan, the Wyoming Toad Recovery Team, and private landowners to successfully breed the species in captivity and reintroduce the small amphibian into its historic range.


Saratoga National Fish Hatchery is the first hatchery to breed amphibians and the Red Buttes Field Office is the first Ecological Services Office to do so, making possible the record of accomplishment: together, the two facilities now produce 75 percent of the toadlets released.


“We’re very proud of the Wyoming toad recovery work that is ongoing at our Saratoga National Fish Hatchery and Wyoming Ecological Services Field Office; it’s a very successful recovery effort between the Service, its partners and the state of Wyoming. The exceptional work of these dedicated biologists warrants this special recognition,” said Steve Guertin, Regional Director of the Mountain-Prairie Region.  In fact, Saratoga National Fish Hatchery was the first Service fish hatchery to breed amphibians.


While conserving the Wyoming toad, the awardees refined captive-breeding techniques in conjunction with zookeepers, biologists and veterinarians. Such efforts led to advances in amphibian husbandry and hibernation-inducing methods. The biologists also assisted in designing bio-secure environments for holding, displaying, and breeding the animals.


As with any successful program in the Service, current staff members are only successful because they are standing on the shoulders of the giants who preceded them; such as Ed Stege, who started the toad propagation program as the facility’s manager in 1997.


To date, Service biologists and partners are responsible for releasing more than 100,000 Wyoming toadlets since 1994 at three sites in Albany County—Mortenson Lake National Wildlife Refuge and two Safe Harbor Agreement properties.


For additional information, please visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Recovery Champion website at:


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit