efforts to protect and save endangered fish
"I love the challenge of persuading a
person to care about suckers or toads."
The very walls
were chirping: There were crickets in every crack and cupboard of
Jenn Logan’s fourth-floor Denver apartment. In the bedroom,
30 or so boreal toads peered at her from the glass aquariums
perched on every flat surface.
Six years ago, Logan
filled her house with the toads — and the crickets to feed
them — while they were awaiting transfer to a Colorado
Division of Wildlife fish hatchery. She managed to keep the
endangered toadlets confined to four aquariums, but the crickets
were a different matter. "I had a lot of loose crickets running
around the house," she says. "I do have sympathy for the poor
person who rented that place after me."
the little greenish-brown amphibians to their new home near
Alamosa, where she now works as assistant manager at the Native
Aquatic Species Restoration Facility. Here, in the first publicly
funded hatchery in the United States to focus exclusively on
endangered species, the toads share space with 11 species of fish,
including razorback suckers, roundtail chub and redbelly dace. For
Logan and her staff, each day brings a new challenge. "The big
hurdle here is that most species were never raised in captivity, so
there’s no manual for them," Logan says. "Our job is to write
The "manual" — in the form of stacks
of production plans, fish counts and other documents — lies
on her desk amid jars of toad specimens and a stuffed toy frog. On
the wall, a satin sash reads "Miss Fish Hatchery." Awarded to her
by a student volunteer, it sums up the reputation Logan has earned
among her colleagues, though she’s quick to dismiss the
compliment with a modest grin.
Arriving at the facility
in 2001, Logan began the difficult work of figuring out what makes
these temperamental fish tick, achieving a handful of victories
along the way. One of them is swimming quietly in a side room at
the hatchery, alone in a rack of tanks that resembles a pet-store
display. Nicknamed Speck, the small, pale-yellow plains minnow
survived a premature hatching that killed hundreds of its brothers
and sisters. The rare minnows have difficulty reproducing in
captivity. Over the years, Logan has tried to encourage them by
simulating river systems and flood conditions in the tanks.
Speck’s survival is the first glimmer of payoff.
even mix of purpose and levity keeps the quick-witted 33-year-old
plodding diligently through puzzles like this, on behalf of some of
the West’s less-than-glamorous animals. "I do enjoy working
with the underdog," says Logan. "Endangered species are most often
ugly, reclusive and unpopular creatures."
Logan has long
had a passion for species conservation. She grew up in suburban
Denver, but it was during a high school summer trip that something
clicked. After working at the Dolphin Research Center in the
Florida Keys for a few weeks, Logan came home with newfound drive.
She and a few classmates tried to apply what they’d learned
as best they could in a state more than a thousand miles from the
ocean. "We actually banned tuna that wasn’t caught with
dolphin-safe methods from our school district menu," she says; it
was her "first little entry" into species protection.
Soon after, Logan landed in wildlife biology classes at Colorado
State University, and in her junior year began volunteering for the
Division of Wildlife. Throughout school and for two years after
graduation, she worked on a variety of wildlife-related projects in
Colorado, Missouri and Utah.
dolphins were "the dream animal to work with," Logan wants to stay
in Colorado. A new position as a Division wildlife conservation
biologist in Glenwood Springs should make that possible. This
month, she’ll leave the tank-lined confines of the hatchery
to work in the field with a wider variety of species. Logan is
excited about the move: She’s always loved playing in the