Cooper McKim/Wyoming Public Radio
The Endangered Species Act is facing a growing number of calls for significant reform. Momentum in Congress and in western states is building to give states more of a say when making changes to the landmark regulation that protects about 1,600 animal and plant species, and their habitats.
Animals like the Wyoming toad.
Back in 1985, there were only 16 of these palm-sized amphibians left at the Mortenson Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Laramie, Wyo.
Today, thanks to a 30-year collaboration between the state, federal agencies, landowners, non-profits and the University of Wyoming, there are about 1,500 Wyoming toads.
Sharon Taylor, who did her Ph.D. on the endangered toad’s decline, arrived at the refuge with her two daughters earlier this month to help reintroduce about 250 toads back into the wild with a group led by Dough Keinath, the recovery coordinator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This was one of five sites around Laramie where scientists released a total of 853 toads that came from a captive breeding site in Saratoga, Wyo.
Down at the lake shore, Taylor knelt next to her two daughters as her 11-year old daughter Christina released one of the brown, warty toads into the…