For thousands of years, Yosemite toads thrived 10,000 feet high in the Sierra Nevada range, emerging from partially frozen lakes in spring to reproduce and eat enough insects to survive another season of hibernation under the ice.
Since the 1960s, however, the once common toad with a musical mating call has been decimated by livestock grazing, fungal infections, pesticides and the appetites of non-native stocked trout.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed federal Endangered Species Act protection for the Yosemite toad and the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog, along with 2 million acres of proposed critical habitat across the range for the cold-climate amphibians.
The proposal came in response to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, which argued that listing the toads and frogs as endangered would hasten the development of protection and recovery plans to ensure their survival.