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).

Where do Barn owls hunt when farmland disappears?

Even though their habitat is becoming increasing urbanized, Barn owls still persist (albeit in lower numbers) in the Fraser Valley. Sofi started studying the hunting and feeding habits, in the western end of the valley, of these owls seven years ago and her results have just been published in the Journal of Landscape and Urban Planning. Congratulations Sofi!

Her results show that as the grassland habitat dissapears, their next preferred hunting grounds are the roadside grass verges and highway medians. They truly are daring hunting along side Lower Mainland traffic! Read her full article here to learn all about how these adaptive birds hunt and feed despite the changing landscape:

Habitat use by barn owls across a rural to urban gradient and an assessment of stressors_Hindmarch et al. 2017

Looking for 2 hard working, keen to learn, summer students!

We are looking for two exceptional students to join our team for the summer. If you are interested in learning more about what a land trust does, aren’t afraid of doing hard work to restore and enhance native habitats, and you are a good communicator who enjoys spreading the importance of caring for the environment to complete strangers, then read on…

Our summer students will work under the supervision of Fraser Valley Conservancy (FVC) biologists and alongside community volunteers. Work will include:

  • managing FVC conservation properties including lots of invasive species control, as well as completing ongoing surveys (photo-point monitoring, vegetation transects, gastropod and amphibian surveys);
  • assisting with ongoing maintenance and monitoring of the juvenile Western Toad migration through the toad tunnel at Ryder Lake;
  • helping with the delivery of our landowner contact program; and,
  • organizing and hosting outreach events, and promoting conservation values to the community.

These positions are a great opportunity to gain experience in the conservation field. While we do not require extensive previous work experience, we will be seeking candidates that have some experience (work, volunteer or academic) in the follow areas:

  • Physically fit and comfortable working outside in all weather conditions
  • Keen interest in local conservation issues
  • Native flora and fauna identification knowledge
  • Excellent verbal and written communications skills
  • Must have access to a reliable personal vehicle as the work will take place around the Fraser Valley (Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Mission). The students will be responsible for their own transportation to and from the daily meeting locations in each community
  • Must be willing to work a flexible schedule (which can include evenings and weekends) to coincide with toad migrations and public events

Additional qualifications that will be considered an asset:

  • Knowledge of amphibian biology, wetland ecology and species at risk issues (especially local species and ecosystems)
  • Field work experience; including monitoring methods, data collection, data analysis and technical reporting
  • Streamkeeper or other related volunteer experience
  • GPS knowledge and basic mapping skills
  • Experience coordinating volunteers and hosting events

These positions are funded through the Canada Summer Jobs program; therefore candidates must meet the following qualifications:

  • Currently enrolled in post-secondary education (must have been registered full-time in the previous academic year and returning to full time studies in September 2017)
  • Be between 15 and 30 years of age (as of May 23rd, 2017)
  • Be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or person to whom refugee protection has been conferred and be legally entitled to work in Canada

Two student stewards will be hired as term employees from May 23rd to August 25th, 2017. The rate of pay will be $14.00 per hour, 40 hours per week.

To apply please email a cover letter and resume clearly outlining how you meet the above requirements and resume to admin@fraservalleyconservancy.ca

Resumes will be accepted until 8:00 am Friday May 12th. Applicants who meet the criteria for an interview will be contacted for interviews  the week of May 15th.

The Toad People are Coming – to Chilliwack!

Actually they were already here as this film features many awesome Chilliwack citizens, FVC staff and volunteers, and the story of our Toad Tunnel project in Ryder Lake. This visually stunning documentary outlines the efforts of concerned citizens and community groups around the province working to save species at risk.

The Wilderness Committee is co-hosting the event with the FVC. Part of the proceeds will be invested back into our toad tunnel project work.  Advance tickets are advisable and available online, cost it pay what you can. Check out the trailer here for a sneak peek and then come join us for the Chilliwack screening of the Toad People.

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!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

Rescheduled AGM next week – Tuesday March 7th

Notice of Annual General Meeting

March 7th, 2017  7:30 pm
33171 2nd Avenue, Mission BC

  • Meet the FVC staff, Directors, and other members
  • Learn what we’ve been up to in 2016
  • Hear about our plans for the future
  • Participate in society business including election of board members
  • If you are interested in sitting on our board, contact us for details and to apply to the nominating committee.
  • Annual $10 membership fee will be collected at the door.

Guests and new members are always welcome!

Meet and greet starts at 7:00 pm. The AGM will commence at 7:30 pm.

We are meeting in the Training Room to the right of the FVC office (Google Maps link)