Boreal toads are a subspecies of the western toad, found along the western stretches of North America from Alaska to Baja California. Boreal toads are native to Utah and found in high elevation wetland areas.
Population numbers have declined throughout Utah and across their whole range in the last 20 years. The primary factors contributing to their decline is habitat loss and the fungal disease chytrid, which affects amphibians globally. In Utah, small populations of toads are located large distances from each other and are vulnerable to habitat disturbance such as livestock grazing, recreational activities and development.
Boreal Toad Conservation Center
In 2015 we opened our Boreal Toad Conservation Center (BTCC). This conservation area on Zoo grounds houses boreal toads collected as eggs from the Paunsaugunt Plateau. This population is geographically isolated from others, and so has evolved unique genetics. This distinct population is in rapid decline due to habitat alteration and chytrid fungus.
Today we have 20 toads in our BTCC that are chytrid free. Utah’s Hogle Zoo will continue to protect and breed these toads, augmenting the Pausaugunt population by reintroducing their offspring to their original habitat.
This work is done in partnership with:
Wahweap Warm Water Fish Hatchery
Loveland Living Planet Aquarium
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
Together we currently house nearly 200 toads. They will continue to be a part of the recovery efforts to re-establish a self-sustaining population on the Paunsaugunt Plateau.
In August 2021 UHZ released our first 64 toads back onto the Paunsaugunt from our Boreal Toad Conservation Center
Outreach and Education
We have a team of full time Zoo staff in our Informal Science Education Enhancement program, who travel statewide, visiting every single 2nd grade classroom in Utah. Annually this team reaches between 10,000 and 14,000 children, teaching them about Utah habitats, including wetlands, with the help of our ambassador animals. Boreal toads travel with our team 50% of the time (with the other half a chance for our tiger salamander to shine).
How Can I Help?
Boreal Toad Monitoring
The mountain lakes and streams in which boreal toad are found are usually very time consuming to survey. They are in remote areas and the surrounds are generally tricky to traverse. For this reason the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) and Forest Service have the need for extra eyes to the ground to successfully monitor this amphibian every year.
UHZ has a full time, dedicated staff member who leads these surveys. Data collected is shared with the Forest Service and the UDWR. These monitoring efforts are also part of our citizen science program. Find out how you can get involved with boreal toad conservation below.
Click below to see our community science monitoring calendar and sign up to go out with our Zoo biologist.