DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado Parks and Wildlife is teaming up with the Denver Zoo to boost the population of the endangered boreal toad and release 20,000 tadpoles into the Colorado wilderness next summer.
“Boreal toads are in a lot of trouble, but their numbers are still relatively strong even though their population is in decline,” Stefan Ekernas, Rocky Mountain/Great Plains Program Director at Denver Zoo said. “Colorado Parks and Wildlife has done a tremendous amount of work on the conservation of boreal toads for almost 30 years, and we’re excited to join in the effort to help the species make a meaningful recovery while there’s still time.”
The Native Aquatic Species Restoration Facility, operated by CPW, provided 95 boreal toads to add to the breeding population for their species.
Boreal toads were once common in montane habitats between 7,000-12,000 feet in the Southern Rocky Mountains. A dramatic decline in the amphibians may be due to habitat loss and chytrid fungus infections, according to CPW.
“We have had success in the past producing boreal toad eggs and tadpoles at NASRF, but it is challenging, and with the increasing need for more animals, we need to step up breeding and reintroduction efforts,” Harry Crockett, Native Species Aquatic Species Coordinator for CPW said.
The NASRF is a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to protecting and restoring threatened and endangered aquatics species native to Colorado, according to CPW.
CPW and Denver Zoo officials expect this to be a multi-year program and estimate that it will take many years to bring the species back to a secure level in the Southern Rocky Mountains.
The Denver Zoo’s wild release program will be a community science project with volunteers monitoring the survival of released toadlets.