Wyoming Toad Facts:
- Discovered in 1946 by a professor at the University of Wyoming, Dr. George T. Baxter
- Known only to inhabit Albany County, Wyoming
- In 1993 what was thought to be the last 10 living toads were captured at Mortenson Lake and brought into captivity to start a breeding program.
- The Wyoming toad was declared “extinct in the wild” and still is.
- The first successful captive reproduction of the toad occurred in 1994 at the Sybille Wildlife Research and Conservation Center in Wyoming.
- This toad grows to be a little over 2 inches long
- Usually brown, gray, or dark green in color and covered in warts
- Lifespan of up to 8 years
- Relies on detecting movements to catch prey
- Eats small invertebrates such as ants, beetles, and insect larvae
- Secretes poison from glands behind their eyes to evade predators
- Males vibrate when picked up and will sometimes chirp
- Private landowners have played a key role in the efforts to recover the Wyoming toad. Back in the 80s, Mortenson Lake — where the last remaining wild toads were found — was owned by a local rancher. When the toads were discovered, the rancher sold the land to The Nature Conservancy, who then donated the land to USFWS for Wyoming toad conservation. That land then became Mortenson Lake National Wildlife Refuge and is one of several protected habitats for the Wyoming toad. Now, toads are released each year on select private and public lands across Albany County — a large-scale effort made possible by generous landowners who maintain their agricultural heritage while also providing habitat for this rare species.
The Wyoming toad (Bufo baxteri) was a common sight on areas of the Laramie Plains, Albany County, Wyoming, into the early 1970s but the populations crashed in the middle 1970s. The Wyoming toad was listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in January 1984.
This toad is a glacial relic known only from Albany County, Wyoming. It formerly inhabited flood plains, ponds, and small seepage lakes in the shortgrass communities of the Laramie Basin. The diet of this species includes ants, beetles, and a variety of other anthropoids. Adults emerge from hibernation in May or June, after daytime maximum temperatures reach 70 degrees F.
Males attract females to breeding sites by their calls. Eggs, in gelatinous strings, are laid from mid-May to early June, and the larvae usually transform by mid-July.
As is the case with other amphibian species, spraying of insecticides to control mosquitoes, changes in agricultural practices, increased predation, disease, and climatic changes have been suggested as causes of the decline, but nothing definite has been identified. Recently, the amphibian chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) has been reported in the captive and wild populations.