Scientific Name: Anaxyrus boreas
Taxonomy Group: Amphibians
Range: British Columbia, Alberta
Last COSEWIC Assessment: November 2012
Last COSEWIC Designation: Special Concern
SARA Status: No schedule, No Status
PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
The Western Toad is a large toad with small round or oval “warts” on the back, sides and upper portions of the limbs. Large oblong parotoid or poison cheek glands are situated behind the eyes. Colour is typically brown or green but varies from olive green to almost reddish-brown or black; a creamy or white vertebral stripe often extends along the back. The “warts” and parotoid glands are often reddish-brown. There is a grey pelvic patch in the groin area that functions to absorb moisture from the environment.
Almost the entire range of the calling population is within Canada. The toads are particularly sensitive to emerging skin disease caused by the amphibian chytrid fungus, which has been linked to global amphibian declines. This species is relatively intolerant of urban expansion, conversion of habitat for agricultural use, and habitat fragmentation resulting from resource extraction and road networks. Life history characteristics, including infrequent breeding by females, aggregation at communal, traditionally used breeding sites, and migrations to and from breeding sites, make populations vulnerable to habitat degradation and fragmentation. The species remains widespread throughout much of their historic range in Alberta and may be expanding their range eastwards. However, declines are suspected and projected based on known vulnerabilities and threats.
Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”.
COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings in this reporting year (October, 2012 to September 2013) from November 25 to November 30, 2012 and from April 28 to May 3, 2013. During the current reporting period, COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 73 wildlife species.
The wildlife species assessment results for the 2012-2013 reporting period include the following:
Special Concern: 19
Data Deficient: 4
Not at Risk: 1
Of the 73 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 50 species that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 26 of those species resulted in a confirmation of the same status as the previous assessment.