A mass migration of thousands of tiny toadlets is about to take place in the hills above Chilliwack.
Fraser Valley Conservancy staff and volunteers have been preparing for the spring migration of juvenile toads in Ryder Lake from their breeding pond to the forested habitat.
“They’re further ahead than I thought, and there are quite a few toadlets in the grass by the water,” said FVC biologist Sofi Hindmarch.
Based on the number of adult Western toads that headed down to the wetland this spring, the migration is going to be a “big one!” she said.
When it’s underway, it can look like the ground is moving.
The juvenile toads will be hopping en masse through the field and across the road, so local residents, Elk Mountain climbers and visitors alike are being asked to kindly watch for the detour signs the FVC pulls out every year, and avoid driving over the toadlets.
“The more people we can make aware of this, the better,” Hindmarch said.
There’s ongoing concern about the declining numbers of Western toad. Most of the locals are aware and take precautions not to squish toads.
Voluntary detour signs could appear between now and mid-August.
Some toads will get across the road using the amphibian tunnel structure built by Fraser Valley Conservancy and partners like Lafarge Canada.
The FVC reps are monitoring the numbers, as part of their Ryder Lake Amphibian Protection Project, and collecting data this summer on the numbers of frogs and toads using the tunnel, once the migration starts.
Other populations affected by vehicle traffic include red-legged frogs, Pacific tree frogs, rough skinned newts, and Northwestern salamanders.
The timing of the migratory event is determined by climactic and biological factors, so it’s hard to predict.
There is a small parking area for those who insist on coming to see the toads, and there are information brochures available in a container near the community notice board at the llama farm that has a map of the detour route.
Volunteers were busy installing the directional fencing last week that guides the toads and frogs to the concrete wildlife tunnel running under the road to help them avoid traffic-caused fatalities during the migration.