July 19, 2023 — In an encouraging conservation success story, approximately 800 Wyoming toads, a species unique to the Laramie area and listed as endangered, were recently reintroduced into their native habitats. According to the Wyoming Game & Fish Department’s press release, this early June initiative highlights an essential step forward in the longstanding effort to pull this species back from the brink of extinction.
A Species Thought Extinct Bounces Back.
Once widespread in the area until the early 1970s, the Wyoming toad was assumed to have disappeared entirely by 1985. A glimmer of hope emerged when a small population was rediscovered two years later, sparking an ongoing effort to bring these amphibians back to their former numbers.
The Wyoming Toad Recovery Team: United for Conservation.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service established the Wyoming Toad Recovery Team in 2001. This multi-organizational collective includes members from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the University of Wyoming, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and other regional and national groups committed to ensuring the survival of the Wyoming toad.
Hatcheries and Zoos: Crucial Contributors to Toad Recovery.
Key institutions such as the Saratoga National Fish Hatchery and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo play an indispensable role in the toads’ recovery. They provide the necessary facilities for breeding and rearing the toads for a year before their reintroduction, significantly reducing the high mortality rates often associated with releasing tadpoles.
Private Landowners: Essential Partners in Toad Conservation.
Private landowners have also significantly contributed to the conservation effort. This year, three of the four toad release sites were privately owned properties under Safe Harbor Agreements, showcasing the commitment of individuals and organizations to the Wyoming toad’s recovery.
Progress Made, But More Work Ahead.
While the wild Wyoming toad population hasn’t yet reached self-sustainability, the recovery team is making significant strides. Over the past seven years, successful breeding in the wild has been reported at one or more reintroduction sites, proving the project’s efficacy and sparking hope for the future of this unique species.
“A close-up of the very handsome (and endangered) Wyoming toad,” by Ryan Moehring / USFWS via Wikimedia Commons (June 2015).