June 17, 2005

Feds Intervene for Endangered Wyoming Toad

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to reintroduce several hundred more Wyoming toad tadpoles in Albany County.

The Wyoming toad is the only toad in the Laramie Basin and the basin is the toad's only home. The toad was listed as endangered in 1984 and thought to have gone extinct in 1987, although toads were later found at Mortenson Lake southwest of Laramie.

Thousands of toads have since been bred in captivity and released, with mixed results.

The latest release is planned on private land near Centennial and the Mortenson Lake National Wildlife Refuge. It's part of a "safe harbor" agreement between the Fish and Wildlife Service and the owner of the land, a nonprofit group called the Buford Foundation.

The foundation preserves land and buses in children from urban areas so they can experience nature in Wyoming, according to Chuck Davis, endangered species coordinator for the Fish and Wildlife Service regional office in Denver.

"One of the best things we can do is try to establish another population, because clearly they are not doing well at Mortenson Lake," Davis said.

It is the first safe harbor agreement in the Fish and Wildlife Service's eight-state Mountain-Prairie Region. "Hopefully it will catch on," agency spokeswoman Sharon Rose said.

Such agreements allow past uses of land to continue. In this case, cattle grazing will be allowed to continue.

Davis said the agreement may be critical for the species' survival.


Information from: Star-Tribune, http://www.casperstartribune.net