Reptiles and amphibians (collectively called 'herptiles' or 'herps') have been around for many millions of years, but 2008 was a year of firsts like they’ve never seen. On the world stage, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums
(AZA) and Amphibian Ark
declared 2008 the Year of the Frog
. Here in Colorado, the State Legislature and Governor declared the western painted turtle our official state reptile. All this attention might lead some to believe that all is rosy in the world of herps, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Many amphibian populations, including frogs, toads, and salamanders, have been experiencing declines around the world for a number of years. These losses have been linked to all the big name environmental threats—increased ultraviolet radiation from ozone depletion, climate change, acid rain, pesticide pollution of breeding ponds, non-native plants and animals, over-collection, habitat loss and fragmentation, drought, and disease. Reptiles, including snakes, lizards, and turtles, are also being impacted by many of these same threats.
Colorado is home to one salamander, five turtles, 16 native frogs and toads, 19 lizards and 26 snakes. Many of these species are facing the same threats as their cousins around the world and have warranted some sort of protection within the state. The boreal toad (Bufo boreas boreas) is listed as endangered by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission. The northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens) is petitioned for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife has also designated six amphibians and ten reptiles as Species of Special Concern.