A western toad. (Suzie Wolf)

VIDEO: Protection requested as toads prep for thousands-strong migration in Lower Mainland

Local environmentalists have asked for temporary road closure to avoid squishing the animals

It’s a short migration, but it can be a big one when it comes to the western toad in South Langley, according to local environmentalists.

Christy Juteau of A Rocha Canada was at Monday evening’s Township council meeting to ask for some local road closures in Fernridge in July.

The western toads are a “species of special concern” under Canada’s Species At Risk Act, said A Rocha conservation intern Emily Walker.

The proposed road closures are to protect the migration of the juvenile toads, which will soon be leaving their ponds.

“The western toad juveniles do this all at once, which creates a mass migration event which may be tens of thousands of individuals strong,” Walker said.

WATCH: 2017 toad migration

The hot spots are 20th and 18th Avenues, between 196th and 200th Street.

The dime-sized toadlets leave a pair of wetlands, both on private property, and head into wooded areas to the north and west of their ponds, in both Langley and Surrey.

Juteau noted that with other animals, such as deer, it’s possible to post signs warning drivers to slow down. But the toads can carpet fields – and roads – in a peak year.

“With these toads, it doesn’t matter if you’re going slow or fast, you kill just as many,” Juteau said.

In 2017, there were an estimated 96,000 young toads on the move in the area.

Surrey has already supported a temporary closure on 196th Street during the migration, Juteau told the Township council.

The temporary road closures are expected to be one to two weeks long, Juteau said.

Last year, the roads were not closed as A Rocha Canada approached the Township too late in the spring for staff to organize a closure and detour.

This year, they have been in contact with the staff earlier, Juteau said.

Long term, the area where the toads live will become more developed. As part of neighbourhood planning, A Rocha is working with the Township on creating underground tunnels that could hopefully allow the toads to move beneath the roads during the annual event.

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