The Boreal toad is now on the endangered species list. Native to Colorado, the toads are found at
higher elevations (above 8000 feet) and have experienced a rapid decline in numbers over the last 25
years, due in part to a deadly fungus, and surely, habitat depletion and/or degradation. The
Colorado Department of Wildlife recently completed a Native Aquatic Species Restoration Facility
near my home town of Alamosa, Colorado. This facility has had great success in hatching out clutches
of toad egg masses from various population sites and raising these tadpoles into young adult toads.
The intention of this "head start" program is to provide and maintain a large number of captive
stock from as many populations as possible in order to ensure the integrity of the genetic diversity
of each population through controlled breeding and release programs.
My family and I were included in a tour of the facility, allowing an up-close interview with
these little toads. Their intermediate home consisted of several partially filled bathtubs, elevated
at one end with a heat lamp to huddle under. Evidently, the warm spot was prime real estate, and to
my artistic delight, I snapped several photos of toad piles. I'm still smilin'.