J. Kirwin Werner.

Amphibian and reptile survey of the Kootenai National Forest, 1994 : a report to USDA Forest Service online

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III! Ill II II I Mil

3 0864 0014 0160 6

Amphibian and Reptile Survey
of the Kootenai National Forest: 1994

A Report to:

USDA Forest Service

Kootenai National Forest

506 U.S. Highway 2 West

Libby, MT 59923

Submitted by



December 1994

1 1398


1515 E. 6th AVE.

Montana Natiiral Heritage;- Program
1515 East Sixth Avenue "

P.O. Box 201800
Helena, MT 59620-1800


i >

- '





© 1994 Montana Natural Heritage Program

This document should be cited as follows:

Werner, J. K. and Reichel, J. D. 1994. Amphibian and reptile survey of the Kootenai National Forest: 1994.
Montana Natural Heritage Program. Helena, MT. 104 pp.






A total of 149 surveys and/or sightings were made in the Kootenai National Forest
between May, 1993 and September, 1994. Of this total, 134 were surveys of ponds, lakes, seeps,
streams or other wetlands by 1 or 2 individuals. Each survey took 30 minutes - 2 hours and
consisted of a thorough search of the wetland perimeter and netting of near shore aquatic habitats
for larvae and tadpoles. Stream sampling was done either by hand and dipnet or electrofishing.
Seeps were checked by rolling over rocks and logs in and near wet areas. In addition to surveys,
sightings were made from road kills, vocal identifications or fortuitous sightings by other reliable

The entire forest was covered in the survey with a minimum of 8 person days (1 person
for 8 days) spent in each district. Efforts were made to sample all types of wetland habitats at
different elevations albeit given time restraints and the large area, the majority of surveys were
within 2-3 miles of established roads and between 2800-5000 feet elevation.

Among amphibians, the Long-toed salamander and the Spotted frog were found
throughout the forest. The Tailed frog was found in most streams where habitat appeared
suitable. The Pacific chorus frog and the Western toad showed a patchy distribution and their
populations may be in decline. The Leopard frog appears to have been extirpated from the
Kootenai National Forest (and a large section of western Montana). The Coeur DAlene
salamander, a Sensitive Species, was found in four districts at limited sites. Populations seemed
to be stable. The two species of Garter snakes were the only reptiles found commonly in all
districts, although Painted turtles were seen infrequently in lakes and slower moving waters at
lower elevations. The Rubber boa, Western skink, and Alligator lizard were all seen on at least
one occasion.









Species Present on the Kootenai National Forest 7

Long-toed Salamander 7

Coeur dAlene Salamander 9

Tailed Frog 11

Western Toad 13

Pacific Chorus Frog 15

Spotted Frog 17

Leopard Frog 19

Bullfrog 21

Painted Turtle 23

Northern Alligator Lizard 25

Western Skink 27

Rubber Boa 29

Racer 31

Gopher Snake 33

Western Terrestrial Garter Snake 35

Common Garter Snake 37

Species Potentially Present on the Kootenai National Forest 39

Tiger Salamander 39

Idaho Giant Salamander 41

Rough-skinned Newt 43

Wood Frog 45

Western Rattlesnake 47

Ranger District Information 48

Cabinet District 48

Three Rivers District 48

Libby District 48

Rexford District 48

Fortine District 49

Fisher River District 49




APPENDIX 1. Sites surveyed during 1993-94 amphibian and reptile surveys 59

APPENDIX 2. Amphibians and reptiles observed during surveys of the Kootenai National

Forest in 1993-94 68

APPENDIX 3. Amphibians and reptiles reported from in and around the Kootenai National

Forest 75

APPENDIX 4. Data Sheets used for Reptiles and Amphibian Surveys and Observations .... 94

APPENDIX 5. New Element Occurrences of Coeur dAlene Salamanders found during 1992-4


Figure 1. Map of amphibian and reptile survey sites on the Kootenai National Forest 5



We thank Doug Perkinson for his help throughout the study. Surveys of many sites were
done in conjunction with S. G. Beckstrom and Erik Werner. Additional help, location of
possible survey sites, information on herp observations, and other support was provided by A.
Bratkovich, J. Davies, D. Dorman, A. M. Dueker, R. Galloway, C. E. Barbat-Hidy, T. Hidy, J.
Holyfield, L. Johnson, W. J. Johnson, M. Moeller, M. Natale, E. Pfalzer, L. Young, M. Zweifel,
and other Forest Service personnel. A special note of thanks to Kay and Joe Burk for their
assistance and to Don Jones for information on species locations. D. D. Dover, C. Jones, and S.
Thweatt assisted with element occurrence and map preparation. Financial support for the project
came from the Kootenai National Forest (U.S. Forest Service, Northern Region) and the Montana
Natural Heritage Program (Montana State Library, Natural Resources Information System and
The Nature Conservancy).

Museum records were received from: American Museum of Natural History, Academy of
Natural Science, Brigham Young University, California Academy of Science, Carnegie Museum,
University of Puget Sound Museum, Field Museum of Natural History, Glacier National park
Museum, Illinois Natural History Survey, University of Kansas, Los Angeles County Museum,
Louisiana State University Museum of Zoology, Museum of Comparative Zoology - Harvard,
Milwaukee Public Museum, Montana State University Museum, Michigan State University
Museum, North Carolina State Museum of Natural History, Northern Louisiana University
Museum, University of Colorado Museum, University of Georgia Museum of Natural History,
University of Idaho Museum, University of Michigan Museum, University of South Dakota,
United States National Museum of Natural History, University of Texas - Arlington, University
of Texas - El Paso, and Peabody Museum - Yale.




Many amphibians are apparently declining in the western U.S. and world-wide (Corn and
Fogelman 1984, Phillips 1990). Acid rain, ozone depletion, pollution by toxic chemicals and
heavy metals, predation and/or competition by exotic species, habitat alteration, disease, immune
system deficiency, and climate change have all been suggested as possible causes.

Bullfrogs and bass have been introduced into waters on or near the Kootenai National
Forest (KNF); both have been implicated in declines of native amphibian populations. Past
forestry practices and large scale logging continue to be detrimental to resident herpetofauna
(Bury et al. 1991). The Tailed frog {Ascaphus truei), present on the KNF, is thought to be one of
the most sensitive indicators of stream-side and aquatic community health in forested landscapes
(R. B. Bury, pers. comm.). Preliminary data indicate the Leopard frog (Rana pipiens) has
disappeared over much of its former range in western Montana.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists one Montana amphibian as a candidate species:
the Spotted frog (C2) {Rana pretiosa). The Western toad {Bufo boreas) has recently been
petitioned for listing (L. Nordstrom, USFWS, Helena, pers. comm.). The U.S. Forest Service
Region 1 lists the Coeur d'Alene salamander as "Sensitive" and is considering adding the
northern Leopard frog and Spotted frog. The Montana Natural Heritage Program and the
Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks list 4 amphibians [Coeur d'Alene salamander
(Plethodon idahoensis), Idaho giant salamander (Dicamptodon aterrimus), Canadian toad (Bufo
hemiophrys), Wood frog (Rana sylvatica)} and 5 reptiles [Snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina),
Spiny softshell (Apalone spinifera), Western hognose snake (Heterodon nasicus), Smooth green
snake (Opheodrys vernalis), Milk snake (Lampropeltis triangulum)} as species of special concern
in the state; the Leopard frog is being considered for addition. The Tailed frog was recently
removed as a species of special concern due to its apparently wide-spread and stable populations
in western Montana. Of these, the Spotted frog, Leopard frog, Wood frog, Western toad, Idaho
giant salamander, and Coeur dAlene salamander occur, or potentially occur, on the KNF.


Historic locations of amphibians and reptiles were found in the literature (see
Bibliography) and museum specimen records. Records were received from over 20 major
museums in North America. We have entered locations from these sources into a database and
digitized them. Records from the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology (University of California -
Berkeley) have not yet been received.

Survey sites were chosen based on 4 criteria: 1) Location of streams, seeps and wetlands
on topographic maps; 2) past survey sites as given in the literature and personal communications;
3) accessibility of the wetlands by roads or hiking trails; 4) conversations with district biologists
on stream-seep-wetland locations and past Forest Service surveys. Based on the above, 2-6 sites
were chosen daily for surveys. Thirty minutes - 2 hours were spent at each site depending upon
the size of the area and what was found. Initially, the entire shoreline or a major part thereof,
was searched by walking slowly along the edge and up into the surrounding vegetation, including
rolling over rocks and logs. At regular intervals, the aquatic habitat was sampled for tadpoles or
larvae using dipnets. If the initial sampling showed amphibian/reptile species present, further
effort was expended in order to get some idea of abundance and distribution. Minnow traps were
occasionally used overnight to sample aquatic stages. Night sampling was common in seep
areas. Due to the short breeding season of many amphibians, each district was sampled
sequentially for one-three day intervals. After all districts were sampled, the cycle was repeated.
The drought and fires of 1 994 reduced sampling efforts in some areas.

In July- August 1994, a significant amount of time was involved electro fishing streams for
the Tailed frog. Normal procedure involved sampling 10-100 m of stream using a frequency of
120 cps and 200-250 volt output. As soon as 1 or 2 of the tadpoles/adults were found,
electrofishing stopped (this often occurred in the first 10 m of stream). If no individuals were
found, sampling continued for about 100 m at which point either the stream was sampled at some
other point or not sampled again. The majority of streams were sampled at only one or two sites
but in several streams (Libby Creek, Grave Creek, Deep Creek), efforts were made to sample the
stream at numerous places (up to 8 sites) from lower to higher elevations in order to determine
distribution along the stream. Given the short segments of stream sampled and the low voltage,
rarely was fish mortality observed. At the request of district biologists, some areas were not
electro fished due to the presence of bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) or interior redband trout
(Oncorhynchus mykiss gibbsi) populations in the streams. In those situations, efforts to capture
Tailed frogs were made by rolling over rocks with a net on the downstream side; this method is
not as effective as electrofishing.

An attempt was made to collect the first few individuals of a species in any area, which
were identified, the development stage observed and/or measured for body length, sexed if
possible and released. Representative samples of the more common species in each latilong were
preserved for permanent museum records and will be deposited at the Idaho State University
Museum. Water temperature, air temperature, pH and a general description of the area were
recorded mdard data sheets used during this project are given in Appendix 4; the amphibian
sun sheet was developed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is used extensively by a

variety of researcher in the western U.S. Please note that much site specific data was gather
during these surveys and not all data are analyzed or presented in this report. It is available from
the Montana Natural Heritage Program.


A total of 134 sites were surveyed of which 104 had one or more amphibian or reptile
species present (Figure 1, Appendices 1 and 2). Although no species were found at 28 sites, their
absence may have been due to the time of day, weather conditions, or other factors at the time of
sampling. Among the 28 sites were a number of seep areas which were being searched
specifically for the Coeur dAlene salamander which can be very difficult to find.
The number of sites varied from 17-29 per district (Fortine - 22, Three Rivers - 23, Rexford - 21,
Libby - 22, Cabinet - 29, Fisher River - 17). The lower number of sites in the Fisher River
district was due in part to the extensive private land holdings within the district. With three
exceptions, all of the sites were on KNF land.

In addition to the 134 surveys, there were a number of sightings (i.e. road kills, chance
observations) for which that data are available and the sightings considered reliable. Location
data from surveys, sightings, and historic records (from the literature and museum specimens)
are listed in Appendix C; these records were used in constructing the enclosed distribution maps.

There had been no systematic survey of amphibians and reptiles in the KNF. Based on
approximately a half-dozen publications which have recorded species in or near the Forest and
from personal accounts, a list of 12 amphibians and 9 reptiles are considered possible inhabitants.
Of these, 6 amphibians and 5 reptiles were actually observed during the study. The following
results are presented as a species summary for the Forest as a whole, followed by specific
information on each district.

Herp Survey Locations
On or near the Kootenai National Forest, Montana

Survey locations from the Montana Natural Heritage Program, 12/05/S4

Ambystoma macrodactylum - Long-toed Salamander
Occurrences on or near the Kootenai National Forest, Montana

1 S92-94 data
O Pre- 1992 data


Museum specimens >

Species locations from the Montana Natural Heritage Program, 12/05

Species Present on the Kootenai National Forest

Long-toed Salamander (Ambystoma macro dactylum)

Description: Adults are dark gray to black with an irregular (and sometimes broken) green to
yellow stripe down the middle of the back. Adult snout-vent lengths vary from 2 to 3.25".
All salamanders have smooth moist skin without scales. Adult long-toed salamanders can be
told from other Montana species by a combination of: 1) the longest toe on the hind foot
which is longer than the sole of the hind foot; 2) lack of a nasolabial groove running
vertically from nostril to mouth; and 3) 12-13 costal grooves on side of body. Egg masses
are typically laid in small clusters of 5-100 eggs but may be laid singly (Nussbaum et al.
1983). Within the clear gelatinous eggs, the embryos are light colored, while frog and toad
embryos are dark. Larval long-toed salamanders are typically brown colored, found in
ponds, have three external gills, and are relatively small (

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Online LibraryJ. Kirwin WernerAmphibian and reptile survey of the Kootenai National Forest, 1994 : a report to USDA Forest Service → online text (page 1 of 8)