Did you know…amphibian breeding season has begun!

Now that spring is finally conquering the winter weather, the amphibians in the Fraser Valley are rousing from their winter habitat and making their way to their breeding sites. You might have heard male chorus frogs calling at night recently? Even though they are one of our smallest frogs, they have big voices especially when they congregate at breeding time (hence the name). They are the most noticeable frog calling at this time of year and a sure sign spring is on its way!

This means the frogs and toads are on the move – watch for them crossing the roads on rainy nights!

Red legged frog on the right and tiny Chorus frog on the left

Have you ever wondered why the frog crossed the road?

As far as amphibians (frogs, toads and salamanders) are concerned, this is the most important event of the year, and they are all making their way from where they spent their winters, to a pond, marsh, wetland, ditch or even abandoned swimming pools to breed and lay eggs. In our region, this often means that amphibians will have to cross at least one or two roads on their quest to find a mate. Unfortunately, road mortality is a significant threat to our native amphibians and this is particularly concerning given that quite a few of our local amphibians are of conservation concern, largely due to their shrinking habitat.

Since spring is late this year, warmer wetter nights will most likely mean a spike in their migration over the next couple of weeks. Please slow down and be on the lookout for amphibians while driving on wet nights.

If you are out during the day, keep an eye out for freshly laid egg masses in bodies of water. We have just completed a handy Aquatic Amphibian Egg Masses in the Fraser Valley ID sheet that can help you figure out who laid the eggs. There is also the corresponding Frogs and Toad of the Fraser Valley ID sheet if you want more details on the adults.

Recruiting amphibian detectives!

It’s that time of year again…the Amphibians are on the move to their breeding pond and we need help tracking them!

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Do you enjoy cold walks on rainy nights?  Would you like to learn how to identify the different amphibians who are on the move? If so sign up to be an amphibian road survey volunteer and help us monitor the roads in Ryder Lake!

The Fraser Valley Conservancy is looking for tough volunteers to help with night time amphibian surveys as a component of our Ryder Lake Amphibian Protection Project.  The objective of this survey is to determine the effectiveness of our toad tunnel and associated fencing at reducing road mortality.  We will be counting live and dead amphibians along a stretch of Ryder Lake and Elk View roads in Chilliwack, BC.

Volunteers must be prepared to walk 6 km in cold, dark and wet conditions while searching for amphibians.  Surveys will start after dark and last until the survey is complete, generally 1-3 hours.  You will need weather appropriate gear (rain jacket, rain pants, boots or waterproof shoes, gloves).

Unfortunately, surveys cannot be planned in advance as they are completely dependent on rainy weather.  If you are interested in volunteering for this project please e-mail Sofi (Sofi@fraservalleyconservancy.ca) and you will be added to a contact list.  When it looks like conditions are going to be good (i.e. wet) an e-mail will be sent out requesting volunteers for a specific day and time.  Usually this e-mail is sent the day before or sometimes the day of a survey.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to e-mail or call (604-625-0066).

Did you know… Rat poison kills more than rats

Rodenticides (rat poison) are not only killing the intended targets such as rats and house mice. Every year in BC there are documented cases of owls, hawks and other wildlife that have died as a result of eating rodents that have eaten rat poison. Rodenticides are designed to be slow-reacting so that rats and mice do not associate getting sick and dying from eating the poison. Due to these “slow reacting compounds,” and it can take up to 5-7 days before a rodent gets sick and eventually dies. During this lag-time, there is a risk that the rodent will get eaten by a hungry predator, especially if the rodent is becoming slow and lethargic due to poisoning.

There are different types of rodenticides, but the main ones are what we call anticoagulant rodenticides. The active ingredients brodifacoum, difethialone and bromadiolone are very toxic and persistent — one feeding is sufficient to not only kill rodents but also secondary poison predators.

Rodent Control
If possible, avoid the use of rodenticides. Consider preventive measures such as removal of food sources and blocking access to the inside of structures. Rodenticides should only be used as a last resort and application should carefully follow the instructions on the product label.

Preventive Measures
• Removal of open food sources for pests
• Safe storage of food products and or waste management
• Block possible access to the inside of structures
• Keep pet food indoors
• Keep grass short within 1m surrounding barn
• Removal of debris

For more information about this topic and alternatives to rat poison, check out Raptors are the Solution.