Formerly widespread and common, these small toads are now extremely scarce. The main cause of decline is the amphibian chytrid fungus, a skin fungus which has also attacked many other amphibian species worldwide. Because of declining populations, Colorado listed the boreal toad as a state endangered species in 1993. In the past two decades, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has devoted significant resources to determine why the toad populations have declined and to explore viable options for recovery.
Why Are Boreal Toad Important?
The boreal toad is an incredibly unique species. It is Colorado’s only alpine toad species, inhabiting lakes, ponds and marshes at 8,000 to 12,000 feet in elevation. Only three other amphibian species (two frogs and the tiger salamander) can survive at these elevations in Colorado.
What Are The Associated Challenges?
What Is CPW Doing?
Colorado Parks and Wildlife's Native Aquatic Species Restoration Facility (NASRF) has played a critical role in efforts to restore boreal toads to Colorado ecosystems. The NASRF has raised 133,546 tadpoles, toadlets and adult toads, which CPW biologists have translocated to help reestablish boreal toads in their historical habitat.
In 2014, biologists documented a breeding population of boreal toads near Cameron Pass—the first translocation effort that has resulted in known survival to the age of reproduction (4 or 5 years old). CPW biologists are hopeful that future translocations will establish additional breeding sites throughout the state.
CPW also provides funding and other support to university researchers who are studying promising approaches to helping toads and other amphibians resist chytrid fungus.