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UDWR biologists are building a fence to protect boreal toads in southeast Utah

a greenish brown toad with brown bumps and spots and a pale stripe down the middle of its back
J. N. Stuart
/
flickr
Boreal toads can be found at high elevations across the Intermountain West.

On the right night at a shallow, alpine pond, you might hear the call of a boreal toad. Tyler Arnold, native aquatic species biologist with the Division of Wildlife Resources, said boreal toads can be found in several states across the Intermountain West.

“And the unique thing about boreal toads is they like to live at high elevations. We're talking six, seven, eight, 9,000 feet of elevation,” Arnold said.

While boreal toads are not federally listed as endangered, their populations are declining due to climate change. Only one population of boreal toads has been documented in the Manti La-Sal mountain range in Southeast Utah. Arnold said these toads return to the same breeding pond year after year to mate and lay their eggs.

“Once the eggs are laid, those eggs will incubate for about two weeks, and then their tadpole stage, they'll be in that water pretty much until mid-September when they … have developed their legs, they've lost their tail. They can actually exit the water at that point,” Arnold said.

This year, DWR biologists are building a fence around the boreal toads’ breeding pond on East Mountain to protect the toads from cows grazing on the landscape.

“What we're trying to do with the fence, primarily, is we're trying to keep them from stepping on the egg masses. Because once they've been broken or stepped on, they're gone,” Arnold said.

Arnold said when tadpoles reach the juvenile stage, their odds of survival increase.

“That's kind of the goal, is just to keep those eggs and those tadpoles from getting smushed. Just give them one extra chance to bolster that population on the East Mountain, because this is the only one we can find,” Arnold said.

If people think they see a boreal toad, Arnold says, they should notify the DWR.

Boreal toad vocalizations from CaliforniaHerps.com

Caroline Long is a science reporter at UPR. She is curious about the natural world and passionate about communicating her findings with others. As a PhD student in Biology at Utah State University, she spends most of her time in the lab or at the coyote facility, studying social behavior. In her free time, she enjoys making art, listening to music, and hiking.