What to do when you find tiny toads in your yard!

To understand why there are tiny toads suddenly appearing on your property it is important to know their life cycle and how your yard plays an important role…

The Western Toad is the only species of toad found in BC. Despite a wide distribution throughout the province. It is experiencing a significant population decline, mainly due to loss of habitat.

When the toads are 3-5 years old they migrate to a wetland during the night in the early spring to breed and lay eggs. The fertilized eggs develop and hatch into tadpoles that swim and feed together in large synchronized schools. After several weeks, when the water warms up, the tadpoles metamorphose into tiny toadlets that emerge from the pond and migrate en-masse towards forest, grassland, and other moist terrestrial habitats where they spend the majority of their lives. Unlike the adults,  tiny toadlets migrate during the daytime, and since they migrate en-masse they can be quite noticeable crawling through fields, backyards and roads.

If you do see toadlets migrate through your property you can help them survive by…
  • Watching your step! The toadlets are tiny (about the size of a dime) and due to their colouration they can be hard to see.
  • If you have a large number in your yard try and avoid areas where they are congregating- in most instances it only takes them 2-3 days to pass through your property.
  • Do not pick them up, as this is a very stressful time for the toads and they will be disoriented when you put them back down on the ground. As well, products on our skin can be harmful to them.
  • Ensure that your pets do not harass the toadlets
  • Avoid mowing your field or lawn where the toadlets are found
  • They will be most active during the cooler times of  the day, during the hot midday they tend to hunker down in shaded areas to wait it out. If you notice that they are crossing a road in your neighborhood, use an alternate route during the morning and evening hours when they are most likely out on the roads.

These mass migrations happen only once a year, so within 10 days they will have moved on, hopefully to a safe forest home.

If you do find toads on your property and/or you have any questions/concerns please do not hesitate to contact us via email or phone 604-625-0066

Thank you for helping the toads in your community – they will return the favor by eating lots of pesky bugs!

 

Toadlet Migration 2017 – Not What We Expected!

One of the things about working with nature is that you never can predict what is going to happen. Science is a tool we use to help guide our decisions, but when it comes down to it nature is going to do its own thing.

Our latest experience with this has been the 2017 Toadlet migration. Before we installed the toad tunnel, we spent many years researching the best location where it could help the most toads cross the road safely. For the first two years it worked well, they migrated along the directional fencing we installed with the help of volunteers, to either the tunnel or the culvert under Elk View Road. This year we were super prepared for the pending migration, everything was meticulously installed while the weather warmed up and the toad tadpoles morphed into little tiny toadlets. However, instead of following their usual route out of the wetland, across the hay field, they decided to go in the opposite direction this year! So now there are streams of migrating toadlets, crossing Elk View Road out of the other end of the wetland and too far south from our fencing and tunnel to benefit from its safe passage. Only the occasional toadlets are migrating the other direction and can benefit from the use of the tunnel.

Therefore, it is especially important this year that people follow the voluntary detour. The toadlets are so tiny it is impossible to see them when driving, many people don’t even notice them when walking. There is no way to avoid killing toadlets driving on Elk View Road between Ryder Lake and Huston Roads, however there is a simple detour that only adds 300m to the drive. The only way can help the toadlets this year is by taking the detour.

We will endeavour to continue to post updates on our YouTube channel if you want to follow there migration progress this year.

Hopefully next year they will continue with their usual migration route. In the meantime, the FVC staff will review the results from this year’s data collected and see if we can come up with an alternate safe crossing if the toadlets repeat this pattern again in the future.

The Toadlets are coming!

Yes the sunny weather is finally here and that means that the tadpoles at Ryder Lake are about to morph into tiny toadlets and will soon be making their annual mass migration into the surrounding forest.

We are looking for energetic volunteers to help us install directional fencing for our Ryder Lake Toad Tunnel, prior to this year’s migration, on Wednesday June 28th. We will be starting at 10 am and will wrap up at 3pm, a pizza lunch will be provided. The fencing is constructed from silt fencing material attached with staples and screws to wooden stakes which are hammered into the ground. We then lay down hose and attach it to the ground with metal pins to ensure the little toadlets can’s sneak their way underneath. The most challenging part of this work is the uneven ground and navigating over fencing and working on some steeper slopes to secure the fencing well with no gaps anywhere.Volunteers must be prepared to work in hot conditions (please bring a water bottle) and will need work gloves and good footwear (hiking boots recommended).

If you are interested in volunteering for this project please respond to this e-mail to obtain details. To ensure we have enough supplies and you have accurate directions (there is no cell service at this location) we require volunteers to sign up with us ahead of time.

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

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).

Amphibian Fencing Volunteers Needed Sunday February 26th

We are looking for enthusiastic volunteers to help install directional amphibian fencing for our Ryder Lake Amphibian Protection Project. The Toad Tunnel is not only used by the thousands of toadlets in the summer but also by the ecologically important breeding adults in the early spring as they migrate to their breeding pond. To ensure this crossing structure is effective, we need to install fencing that will direct amphibians towards the tunnel entrance. The adult amphibians will start migrating to the wetland for breeding in late February or early March.

The fencing will be constructed from silt fencing material attached to wooden stakes using staples or screws. This is the same type of lightweight black fabric fencing seen near construction projects.  The most challenging part of this project will likely be working in wet or muddy conditions on a steep slope. Volunteers must be prepared to work in cold or wet conditions and will need work gloves.

We will be onsite at the Toad Tunnel on Sunday February 26th starting at 10am (wrapping up at 1 pm). If you are interested in volunteering for this project to protect some frogs and toads please send Sofi an e-mail so she can send you further instructions!

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

Tiny Toadlets use the Tunnel!

On July 7th, the same day as we started our sub-adult Western toad road surveys, we installed a camera in the tunnel so that we could count the number of sub-adult toads that used the tunnel during the migration.  The camera was in the tunnel from July 7th – 20th, and took a picture every minute, resulting in 13,119 photos to sort through after the migration was over. Thanks to Lisa and Sasha, who patiently counted all of the toads seen on the photos, we documented a total of 34,915 sub-adult toads using the tunnel!

We tried a new and improved camera set-up this year, and while it worked better, we can’t directly compare numbers between last year and this year. But we are very pleased and excited that so many sub-adult toads used the tunnel rather than the road. There were also other critters seen on the pictures such as a skunk, possum, and a deer mouse. Interestingly, the photos also revealed several people looking into the tunnel to see how the toads were making out. We discovered that after a human was seen at the entrance, fewer toads used the tunnel until about 15 minutes after the person left… an interesting insight into their behaviour!

We are now working with our partners on ideas on how we can improve the directional fencing for next year to ensure that the tunnel captures even more toads and the always important but rarely seen breeding adults. Stay tuned!

Thanks to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation for funding our monitoring work of the tunnel!

HCTF

Toadlet Migration 2016

Thanks to all the help from our volunteers and project supporters the toadlets have safely migrated from their wetland breeding pond to their forest home. There were far fewer toadlets killed on the road this year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While we did encounter some challenges with our directional fencing and the numbers of toadlets migrating were less this year, we were really happy with their acceptance of the tunnel as a safe way to cross under the road. Yet again we learned some important lessons from the toads this season, and we will use this information to continue to improve the crossing. We are optimistic that we will have an even better fencing solution in place that will help direct the toadlets next year. We also expect the migrating numbers will likely return to a more normal (higher) level in 2017, based on past migration trends.

The local papers had some good coverage of the event:

Chilliwack Progress

Chilliwack Times article and a great video showing the toadlets in action!

 

 

 

 

Ryder Lake Amphibian Fencing Day – looking for volunteers for Wednesday June 15th

We are looking for a few energetic volunteers to help us install directional amphibian fencing for our Ryder Lake Amphibian Protection Project prior to this year’s migration. We will be working alongside our project partners from Lafarge to ensure the tiny toadlets are directed toward the a safe road crossing location at the tunnel they helped us build last year.  We start at 10 am (Wednesday June 15th) and we anticipate it will take us four hours or so to complete. Lunch will be provided.

The fencing is constructed from silt fencing material attached with staples and screws to wooden stakes which are hammered into the ground. We then lay down hose and attach it to the ground with metal pins to ensure the little toadlets can sneak underneath. The most challenging part of this work is the uneven ground and navigating over fencing and working on some steeper slopes to secure the fencing well with no gaps anywhere.Volunteers must be prepared to work in hot conditions (please bring water) and will need work gloves and good footwear (hiking boots recommended).

If you are interested in volunteering for this project please respond to this email to obtain further details. To ensure we have enough supplies and directions (there is no cell service at this location) we require volunteers to sign up with us ahead of time.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to email or call 604.625.0066.

RLAPP Toadlet Migration 2015

Check out this videos from the Western toad migration in Ryder Lake last summer.  There are hundreds of tiny toads moving along this ~35 meter stretch of fencing towards one of the safe crossing routes. The toadlets even seem to prefer the smooth fence material for migration over the adjacent grass!

 

 

 

Amphibian Monitoring Volunteers

Do you enjoy cold walks on rainy nights?  Sign up to be an amphibian road survey volunteer!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 hunting 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 us 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.  Unfortunately, only a small group can help each night so only the first couple of people to respond can volunteer on a given night. However, there will be lots of opportunities!

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