The fate of a species could fall on the proverbial shoulders of a few thousand tiny tadpoles released today at Bastrop State Park.
"We're dealing with a species that is critically endangered, and needs a helping hand," said Greg Creacy, with Texas Parks and Wildlife. "It needs all the help it can get. It's had a a lot of challenges the last few years."
The endangered Houston Toad has battled it all, most notably a loss of habitat. The toad could once be found in several counties across Texas, but since has been cornered into one last refuge in Bastrop State Park.
Some estimate put numbers as low as 100 to 150 total for the species.
"This is where they're from, its the only place they're found," said Houston Zoo representative Cassidy Johnson, speaking about Bastrop State Park. "So once they're gone from here, they're gone."
Concerned were raised just two years ago after massive, historic wildfires charred much of Bastrop State Park, so Texas Parks and Wildlife teamed with the Houston Zoo and Texas State University to research and raise some Houston Toads in captivity.
Tuesday marked the release of those tadpoles back to nature.
Researchers still are unsure exactly what effect the wildfires had on the population of toads, but they do that fire was not the species only enemy.
"The drought leading up to the wildfire; we know it had a significant negative impact on the toads," said Creacy.
Tuesday's release of some 1,500 Houston Toad tadpoles into a small pond in the park, researchers believed, is a big step into keeping the species from facing extinction.
"It's not everyday you can wake up and say, 'I'm making a difference for a species,'" said an enthusiastic Johnson.