Don’t go looking for the toads!
Voluntary detour signs are up in Ryder Lake right now to help save tiny toadlets from being squished on the mountain roads above Chilliwack.
“Taking the detour is the only way to avoid running over toadlets,” said Joanne Neilson, executive director of FVC.
She was trying to get the word out since there’s concern about the declining numbers of Western toad. Most of the locals are aware and take precautions.
Some of those hopping will be using the new amphibian tunnel structure built under the road last year by Fraser Valley Conservancy and partners including Lafarge Canada.
“Our hope is that the majority will use the tunnel,” said Neilson.
They’re monitoring the toads, as part of their Ryder Lake Amphibian Protection Project, and collecting data this summer on the numbers of frogs and toads using the tunnel, since the migration started.
But they’re not all finding the tunnel. That means they are crossing over the road often unknowingly running a gauntlet against vehicles.
This is the first year that they’ll really be able to test the system from beginning to end of the migration, said the FVC rep. Last year the toads started migrating early, before the directional fencing was erected leading to the cement tunnel structure, so it meant a bit of a scramble.
“It’s all about adaptive management,” Neilson said.
Thousands and thousands of baby Western toads are now on the move for their annual summer migration. Even though the toad tunnel is in place, the FVC is still politely asking motorists to avoid the area by taking the voluntary detour route that avoids the toad crossing area.
“Some seem to be smarter than the fencing, and the length of the fence is not complete. We’ve only managed to cover off the hotspots,” she said.
“So we still want people to avoid driving over those toadlets who fall through the cracks, and don’t find the tunnel structure.”
FVC reps will monitor the migration, record data with the help of volunteer monitors, and take down the signs when the migration is substantially over.