Saving Endangered Species

Oregon spotted frogs
These mostly-aquatic amphibians once inhabited large areas of Puget Sound lowlands, but now only a handful of isolated populations exist. The species is endangered in Washington.

A program was started in 2008 to reestablish the local population of these frogs. In partnership with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, and many other zoos and partner organizations, Northwest Trek has raised thousands of frogs from fertilized eggs and released them in Pierce County wetlands.

Scientists continue to monitor the released frog population and have found some egg masses, indicating that the released frogs are successfully mating.

These members of the weasel family used to inhabit much of the old growth forest of the Northwest. But trappers – seeking the fishers’ valuable fur pelts – and logging of old growth nearly eliminated the population in Washington by the mid-1900s.

Fishers are now endangered in Washington state. In an effort to recover the species, the state wildlife department has started transplanting animals from British Columbia back into remaining appropriate habitat on the peninsula. This founding population is carefully tracked to monitor how well it is doing.

That’s why state biologists were able to rescue two orphaned fisher brothers stranded in tree snag in June 2010. The kits’ mother was likely killed by a bobcat. The state biologists brought the infant fishers to Northwest Trek, where staff raised them until the animals could survive on their own in the wild. The fishers were released back to their Olympic Peninsula in Fall 2010.

Trumpeter swans
While these beautiful birds are not endangered in Washington, the species disappeared from the Midwest due to hunting and loss of habitat in the 1800s.

The swans are now making a recovery in Iowa and other nearby states – and Northwest Trek has played a key role.

The park has sent 31 swan cygnets, or babies, hatched here to the Iowa-based Trumpeter Swan Society, an organization working to repopulate the birds in the middle of the country. In August 2011, six Northwest Trek-born cygnets were released at Lake Terrell near Bellingham, Washington. 

western toad in hand
Western toads

Northwest Trek contains one of only three reported breeding sites in Pierce County for this state endangered toad. Each summer, thousands of the baby toads – or toadlets – migrate from the pond’s wet banks to drier ground.

The pond property was purchased by Northwest Trek specifically for conservation purposes.