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Western toad should be listed as threatened: N.W.T. committee

The N.W.T. Species at Risk committee says the western toad, which has a small range in the territory, should be classified as threatened.
The western toad has a small range in the Northwest Territories, centred around Fort Liard. The N.W.T. Species at Risk committee is recommending it be classified as threatened. (Mark Thompson)

The N.W.T. Species at Risk committee says the western toad should be classified as threatened.

The amphibian's range is small in the territory and is centred around Fort Liard.

Paul Latour, who chairs the committee that did the assessment, says development in the area hasn't affected the population yet but there's potential it could hurt numbers in the future.

"They probably like a mixture of forest and natural open areas," he said.

"If you get a lot of disturbance it's probably not going to be to their liking."

Latour says amphibians are also sensitive to increased exposure to UV rays and disease.

The committee is recommending more research be done. A Conference of Management Authorities now has a year to decide if the western toad should be listed under the N.W.T. Species at Risk Act.

The group is made up of government officials and representatives from aboriginal groups.

Wolverine population healthy

The committee has also determined the territory's wolverine population is healthy, even though nationally the animal is considered of special concern because they've all but disappeared from northern Quebec and Labrador.

"Overall it seems numbers are stable, they're doing OK," Latour said. "In fact there's evidence that they're expanding their range northward into the islands offshore. If anything they may be expanding their range somewhat."

Latour says wolverines can sustain the harvesting that now only affects three to six per cent of the population, but he says it's something to keep an eye on. He says wolverines are also attracted to areas where there is development because they're scavengers and that can also affect numbers. 

The committee is recommending looking at the wolverine population's health again in five years.

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