Mass mi­gra­tion of toads be­gins in Whistler

The Prince George Citizen - - News -

WHISTLER — An an­nual mi­gra­tion in­volv­ing tens of thousands of crea­tures is un­der­way in Whistler, B.C., but ob­servers could miss it if they don’t look down.

Up to 40,000 tiny western toadlets are climb­ing out of Whistler’s Lost Lake where they hatched as tad­poles and are mov­ing into the sur­round­ing for­est.

The dime-sized toads, which are na­tive to British Co­lum­bia and listed as a species of spe­cial con­cern, grow to full size in wooded ar­eas be­fore re­turn­ing to the lake to breed.

The Re­sort Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Whistler says western toads are an im­por­tant part of the Lost Lake en­vi­ron­ment be­cause the tad­poles feed on residue in the lake, keep­ing the wa­ter clean.

But the lit­tle am­phib­ians are par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble dur­ing the toadlet stage as they cross beaches, trails, lawns and busy roads in their jour­ney.

The Whistler web­site says the road to Lost Lake, as well as the beach and lawn are still open.

How­ever clo­sures are pos­si­ble at the height of the mi­gra­tion when as many as 1,800 tiny toads can hop over roads and paths ev­ery hour.

A state­ment on the web­site says en­vi­ron­men­tal tech­ni­cians and vol­un­teers mon­i­tor the mi­gra­tion, while tem­po­rary fences, signs and board­walks have been in­stalled to pro­tect the toadlets from get­ting crushed.

The mi­gra­tion will con­tinue for the next three or four weeks. Peo­ple are en­cour­aged to ob­serve but are urged to leave pets at home.

“Dogs are not al­lowed on the beach area, as they may tram­ple tad­poles and can be­come sick from in­gest­ing or lick­ing am­phib­ians,” the state­ment says.

Whistler’s mi­gra­tion has been mon­i­tored since 2005 be­cause western toads are very sensitive to en­vi­ron­men­tal changes and the mu­nic­i­pal­ity says the am­phib­ians of­fer an in­sight into the health of the area’s en­tire ecosys­tem.

RE­SORT MU­NIC­I­PAL­ITY OF WHISTLER HAND­OUT PHOTO

Western toads are seen near Whistler in this un­dated hand­out photo. An an­nual mi­gra­tion in­volv­ing up to 40,000 tiny western toadlets has started. The toadlets climb out of Whistler’s Lost Lake where they hatched as tad­poles ear­lier this year and move into the sur­round­ing for­est.

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