Feds finalize plan to save country’s most endangered toad

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Wyoming toads are listed as extinct in nature by the IUCN. Photo via USFWS.

Wyoming toad has been on endangered species list since 1984

Staff Report

After more than a quarter century on the Endangered Species List, Wyoming toads may have a chance at recovery under a new plan that sets specific targets and requires long-term monitoring.

The once-common toads died off in massive numbers starting in the 1970s, succumbing to a deadly fungal disease that has afflicted amphibians around the world.

Listed as endangered in 1984, the Wyoming toad is considered one of the four most endangered amphibian species in North America and is currently classified as “extinct in the wild” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Approximately 500 individuals are currently held in captivity for breeding and reintroduction efforts.

“This plan lays out a roadmap for saving one of America’s most imperiled amphibians,” said Tyler Abbott, who leads Wyoming toad recovery efforts for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “In recent years, we have gained valuable insight into the threats facing the species as well as new techniques and technologies for addressing those threats. Our ultimate goal with this plan, which we will implement collaboratively with our partners, is to recover the Wyoming toad and return the species to state management.”

The recovery plan, developed together with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, targets a minimum of five self-sustaining populations within the toad’s historic range that persist for at least seven years. It also requires the creation of an adaptive management plan to guide conservation of captive and wild populations for 25 years after delisting. This adaptive management plan will include detailed monitoring protocols to ensure populations do not decline below recovery criteria. Finally, the adaptive management plan must address both known threats and those that may arise in the future.

The species was once abundant across the state’s plains. On going recovery efforts have been hampered by a lack of suitable reintroduction sites and a small population size.

“Wyoming has made a strong commitment to recovering this species and we are glad to be a part of this plan further restoring the Wyoming toad,” said Mark Fowden, Chief of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Fish Division.

The Final Revised Recovery Plan can be viewed at: http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/amphibians/wyomingtoad/.

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