A few miles away from Cameron Pass, at 9,500 feet in the mountains of Northern Colorado, Boyd Wright sloshes through the water on the edge of a swimming pool-sized pond. Wright, a biologist with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, is getting ready to go toad-hunting.
“I usually try to think back to my childhood and how I would go about catching a frog, which I did a lot as a kid,” said Wright.
Taking careful steps through the water, he cups his hand and grabs a male boreal toad. It’s fist-sized, black and shiny, and scared.
Wright flips a toad on his back, to get a look at his belly. It’s beautiful, with spots that look like a leopard print. He takes a photo for tracking purposes; each toad can be identified by his belly print, which is unique, like a fingerprint. The toad keeps chirping, sounding a little like an oversized cricket.
“He’s basically saying ‘hey, get your hands off me,’” said Wright.
We’re up at this site because this is the only place in all of Colorado where an effort to reintroduce boreal toads has worked.