colour photo of Fowler’s Toad

Photo: Sam Brinker

The Fowler’s Toad is a medium-sized member of the family Bufonidae. The adult body is 50 to 80 mm in length. Its back is gray or buff coloured, with darker patches and small dark brown warts on a granular textured skin.

Protecting and recovering species at risk in Ontario

Species at risk recovery is a key part of protecting Ontario’s biodiversity. Biodiversity – the variety of living organisms on Earth – provides us with clean air and water, food, fibre, medicine and other resources that we need to survive.

The Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA) is the Government of Ontario’s legislative commitment to protecting and recovering species at risk and their habitats. As soon as a species is listed as extirpated, endangered or threatened under the ESA, it is automatically protected from harm or harassment. Also, immediately upon listing, the habitats of endangered and threatened species are protected from damage or destruction.

Under the ESA, the Ministry of Natural Resources (the Ministry) must ensure that a recovery strategy is prepared for each species that is listed as endangered or threatened. A recovery strategy provides science-based advice to government on what is required to achieve recovery of a species.

Government response statements

Within nine months after a recovery strategy is prepared, the ESA requires the Ministry to publish a statement summarizing the government’s intended actions and priorities in response to the recovery strategy. The recovery strategy for the Fowler’s Toad was completed on February 18, 2011.

The response statement is the government’s policy response to the scientific advice provided in the recovery strategy. In addition to the strategy, input on the response statement was requested from stakeholders, other jurisdictions, Aboriginal communities and members of the public. The statement reflects the best available traditional, local and scientific knowledge at this time and may be adapted if new information becomes available. In implementing the actions in the response statement, the ESA allows the Ministry to determine what is feasible, taking into account social and economic factors.

Moving forward to protect and recover Fowler’s Toad

The Fowler’s Toad is listed as an endangered species under the ESA, which protects both the animal and its habitat. The ESA prohibits harm or harassment of the species and damage or destruction of its habitat without authorization. Such authorization would require that conditions established by the Ministry be met.

Fowler’s Toad is found on sandy or rocky points, sand dunes, and beaches along Lake Erie, where it breeds in sandy-bottomed ponds or rocky pools in early successional habitats. Most threats to the species in Ontario are related to intensive human use of the Lake Erie shoreline which interrupt the natural processes of erosion and deposition necessary to maintain habitat features for Fowler’s Toad. These include industrial, commercial, housing, road, and recreational activities.

The government’s goal for the recovery of the Fowler’s Toad is to maintain populations at existing locations in Ontario, and to investigate the feasibility of re-introducing populations in other suitable areas.

Protecting and recovering species at risk is a shared responsibility. No single agency or organization has the knowledge, authority or financial resources to protect and recover all of Ontario’s species at risk. Successful recovery requires inter-governmental co-operation and the involvement of many individuals, organizations and communities.

In developing the government response statement, the Ministry considered what actions are feasible for the government to lead directly and what actions are feasible for the government to support its conservation partners to undertake.

Government-led actions

To help protect and recover the Fowler’s Toad, the government will directly undertake the following actions:

  • Develop a survey protocol to be used by proponents and partners to detect the presence or absence of Fowler’s Toad.
  • Educate other agencies and authorities involved in planning and environmental assessment processes on the protection requirements under the ESA.
  • Encourage the submission of Fowler’s Toad observation data to the Ministry’s central repository at the Natural Heritage Information Centre or the Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas.
  • Undertake communications and outreach to increase public awareness of species at risk in Ontario.
  • Protect the Fowler’s Toad and its habitat through the ESA. Develop and enforce a regulation identifying the specific habitat of the species.
  • Support conservation, agency, municipal and industry partners to undertake activities to protect and recover the Fowler’s Toad. Support will be provided through funding, agreements, permits (including conditions) and advisory services.
  • Establish and communicate annual priority actions for government support across multiple species in order to encourage collaboration and reduce duplication of efforts.

Government-supported actions

The government endorses the following actions as being necessary for the protection and recovery of the Fowler’s Toad. Actions identified as "high" will be given priority consideration for funding or for authorizations under the ESA. The government will focus its support on these high-priority actions over the next five years.

Focus area: Protection and management

Objective: Protect existing Fowler’s Toad populations and habitat, reduce or mitigate human impacts to them and improve habitat areas.


  1. (High) Develop and implement best management practices based on an evaluation of current habitat restoration approaches. Practices may include:
    • habitat improvement (e.g. removal of invasive species such as European Common Reed and Zebra Mussels from breeding sites and dunes), and
    • Beach management (e.g. actions related to barriers and beach grooming).
  2. Deliver effective communications and outreach to key stakeholders and landowners within the existing range of Fowler’s Toad to increase awareness of the species' distribution and threats, and to foster good stewardship.
  3. As opportunities arise, support the securement of lands that contain Fowler’s Toad populations through existing land securement and stewardship programs.

Focus area: Research and monitoring

Objective: Improve knowledge of Fowler’s Toad biology, habitat and threats and potential approaches to mitigate these impacts.


  1. (High) Develop and implement a standard monitoring program to track changes in species distribution and abundance.
  2. Undertake population viability assessment (PVA): determine data needs and use of PVA, conduct research required for the PVA, and carry out the assessment once the information is available.
  3. Conduct research to better understand Fowler’s Toad demographics, natural limiting factors, habitat use and dynamics, and the impact of human activities such as pollution discharge or construction of shoreline structures on the species and habitat.
  4. Determine the feasibility of reintroducing Fowler’s Toad into suitable areas.

Implementing actions

Financial support for the implementation of actions may be available through the Species at Risk Stewardship Fund, Species at Risk Farm Incentive Program or Community Fisheries and Wildlife Involvement Program. Conservation partners are encouraged to discuss project proposals related to the actions in this response statement with the Ministry. The Ministry can also advise if any authorizations under the ESA or other legislation may be required to undertake the project.

Implementation of the actions may be subject to changing priorities across the multitude of species at risk, available resources and the capacity of partners to undertake recovery activities. Where appropriate, the implementation of actions for multiple species will be co-ordinated across government response statements.

Reviewing progress

The ESA requires the Ministry to conduct a review of progress towards protecting and recovering a species not later than five years from the publication of this response statement. The review will help identify if adjustments are needed to achieve the protection and recovery of the Fowler’s Toad.


We would like to thank all those who participated in the development of the "Recovery Strategy for the Fowler’s Toad in Ontario" for their dedication to protecting and recovering species at risk.