Head-starting the Houston Toad

This is Passport to Texas

[Houston toad trill]

You’ll only hear that sound in a small area of Texas.

Like Gauss, or Bastrop, or places that a lot of people haven’t heard of, but those people that know them, that’s what they think of as home.

A home they share with the endangered Houston Toad… an amphibian that doesn’t have a voice when it comes to how humans alter their shared habitat… alteration of habitat is what put the toad in peril.

Mike Forstner is a biology professor at Texas State University, and for nearly two decades he’s worked to keep the toads from fading into oblivion…starting with habitat recovery. Today, with partners including the Houston Zoo, they’re raising toads—called head-starting—to supplement existing populations.

Head-starting is the last stand. It’s when your back’s to the wall, and you’ve got nowhere else to go. An ideal situation would have been that we recovered the habitat and that the populations became reinforced because we recovered the habitat. But we got caught—it stopped raining. And as soon as it stopped raining, we ran right out of room for natural recovery.

Unnatural recovery is better than no recovery at all. Tomorrow we attend a release of head-started toads in Bastrop County.

The Wildlife restoration program supports our series…For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

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