By Daniel Smith
It’s the amphibian of your youth.
Brown, squat, lumpy with “warts” – the kind your mother warned you about. The Boreal Toad (Anaxyrus Boreas) is the quintessential toad in appearance.
The little four-inch toad is the focus of an important preservation campaign in Chaffee County, which has one of the few isolated areas in the world where it may have a chance to hold its own. But now the extinction threat is real, even here.
The chytrid fungus, a disease thought to have originated in Africa, is an extinction threat. Globally, amphibian numbers have declined alarmingly, accelerating since the end of the last century.
The Boreal Toad was very common in high, wet areas of the Colorado mountains, but by 1989, surveys found an 83 percent population loss from breeding areas.
Beginning in 1994, population surveys were done in some of the habitat where they were quickly disappearing, and a multi-agency rescue effort started not long after. The Boreal Toad is now listed as endangered in Colorado and New Mexico and as a protected species in Wyoming. A decision on its listing as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is pending in 2017.