SAVING THE YOSEMITE TOAD

The colorful Yosemite toad was once one of the most common high-elevation Sierra amphibians. Active for only four to five months per year, it has just a short time in which to reproduce and eat enough to survive the long season of hibernation under the snow. The number of Yosemite toads has now declined precipitously throughout the Sierra Nevada, particularly in Yosemite National Park, where the toad was first discovered and after which it is named.

After entire populations of Yosemite toads were seen to have collapsed — even in Yosemite National Park, thought to be the species' most pristine and protected stronghold — the Center petitioned for Endangered Species Act protection for this vanishing high-elevation amphibian in 2000. Unfortunately, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refused to protect the species, instead designating it as merely a candidate for listing.

But in a big win for this toad, in 2011 the Center reached a historic agreement with the Service to push forward protection decisions for this and 756 other species. As a result, in 2013, the Service proposed federal Endangered Species Act protection for Yosemite toads and Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs, along with more than 2 million acres of proposed critical habitat across the Sierra Nevada mountains.

The Yosemite toad is susceptible to pesticides that drift from the Central Valley into the high Sierras, which act as environmental stressors that render amphibians more susceptible to aquatic pathogens. Through our Pesticides Reduction Campaign, the Center is working to reduce pesticide use and force the Environmental Protection Agency to protect endangered species from toxic pesticides.