Detroit Zoo Makes an Impact on Wyoming Toad Comeback

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – The Detroit Zoological Society’s breeding program for the Wyoming toad has produced a record 3,945 tadpoles for release into the wild in its efforts to preserve the federally endangered amphibian.

“This is the largest number of tadpoles we have ever sent back to Wyoming,” said Marcy Sieggreen, Curator of Amphibians at the Detroit Zoo. The majority of the tadpoles were released into the Laramie Basin, a protected Wyoming wetland, while 16 were reserved for future breeding at other facilities.

“The tadpoles are returned to Wyoming before the middle of July so they have plenty of time to grow and metamorphose in the wetlands where they’ll live. It takes them approximately four to five weeks to change into toadlets,” said Sieggreen.

The Wyoming toad (Bufo baxteri) is a dark brown, gray or greenish amphibian with small, dark blotches. The average length is 2.2 inches, with the females slightly larger than the males.

Once abundant in the wetlands and irrigated meadows of Wyoming’s southeastern plains, the Wyoming toad was listed as extinct in the wild in 1994, meaning populations are no longer producing offspring that survive to adulthood in the wild.

The cause of the declines are not well understood, but it is likely that more than one factor contributed to the situation in the past, with habitat loss and infectious diseases suspected as major drivers.

In 2007, the Detroit Zoological Society’s collaborative breeding program for the Wyoming toad was No. 1 on the Association of Zoos and Aquariums list of the Top 10 wildlife conservation success stories. The breeding partnership has successfully released more than 6,000 tadpoles, toadlets and toads in Wyoming since the program’s inception in 1995.

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The Woodward Spine was the brainchild of Michael Fossano and Jeffrey Buck, two Royal Oak, Mich. natives who met nearly 10 years ago while attending the now-defunct George A. Dondero High School. It seemed fitting for the two Wayne State University alums to craft an outlet to help continually refine their writing skills, while also serving as a trusted source of information for the metro Detroit community. The Woodward Spine aims to inform its readers about relevant news and events through creative and informative posts not only by Mike and Jeff, but other upstanding citizens as well who are driven and proficient in these core areas: news, opinion, entertainment, history, sports and development. The Woodward Spine serves the tri-county metro Detroit area, however concentrating mainly on the communities that lie along the Woodward corridor.
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