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!

 

We’re growing again…looking for an exceptional restoration field technician to join our team!

The Fraser Valley Conservancy (FVC) is excited to announce a brand-new position for a wetland restoration technician! This person will be working as part of the Precious Frog team, on the first year of a three-year project with great opportunities for growth in future years. If you have a background in restoration, ecosystems knowledge and are dedicated to conservation, read on….

We are looking for a flexible, curious, and personable employee who can take on project management roles. You will work with a diversity of personalities in challenging conditions, and will need to be able to think on your feet. Applicants with local knowledge and ties to the Fraser Valley or Lower Mainland preferred. You will be mentored by several knowledgeable biologists; together you will be working towards the recovery of the endangered Oregon Spotted Frog and other wetland species in the Lower Mainland of BC.

Description of Work:

Fall and Winter
  • Learning and implementing all technical aspects of the Precious Frog project. Including database management, documenting methodology, statistical analysis, restoration project planning, as well as site investigation and design.
  • Site enhancement work including invasive control, native plantings and bioengineering.

 

Spring
  • February through March assisting with all aspects of the busy amphibian breeding season: egg mass surveys, capture-mark-recapture, bacterial swabbing, marking and release of juveniles.
  • Reporting to government and funding sources.
Summer
  • Field duties in the early summer include night-time bullfrog surveys and control programming, data entry and management, field equipment care and maintenance, etc.
  • Late summer activities revolve around the habitat restoration projects. Maintaining and monitoring past projects, as well as coordinating current projects.
  • Working with municipalities, providing support for frog-friendly drainage maintenance.
  • Assisting with outreach and mentoring of student staff.

General Work Requirements:

You must be capable of performing physically demanding tasks such as walking long distances in mucky sites, paddling canoes and kayaks, lifting and transporting canoes and kayaks, carrying field equipment, etc. Waders and field equipment will be provided. You must be willing to work a flexible schedule during the field seasons.

Our office is in Mission, and many of the field sites are in the Eastern Fraser Valley. You must have a reliable vehicle and be able to transport field gear with you. You will be reimbursed for mileage from the office to field sites.

You will be hired for to work full-time (40 hours/week) from September 4th to March 31st, 2018. If you are the right fit for our team, a two-year extension will be offered at the end of the first work term. The intent is for you to grow with our organization, and potentially work on other projects as the years progress. The starting rate of pay will be $19 to $23 per hour, based on level of experience.

Required Qualifications, Experience and Skills:

  • Bachelors degree in a related field.
  • Minimum of two years (24 months) relevant work experience.
  • Eligible for professional or in training designation  I.E. BC Registered Professional Biologist, Professional Agrologist, Professional Engineer and Geoscientist, etc.
  • Experience in aquatic field work.
  • Versatile, adaptable and resourceful: able to incorporate adaptive management principles, rapidly assimilating new information and adapting activities while maintaining the integrity of the project.
  • Demonstrated landscape assessment skills for the purposes of habitat restoration and site management planning, including vegetative, topographic, hydrologic, soils assessments.
  • Experienced in project management (work planning, contractor coordination, safety, budgeting).
  • High level of comfort working independently in remote areas.
  • Experience writing and implementing a management plan.
  • Detail oriented with highly developed observation skills.
  • Highly competent in MSWord, Excel, and desktop GIS skills.
  • Knowledge of local plants, Fraser Valley ecosystems, species at risk, invasive species, and wetland species.
  • Outstanding communication skills, both verbal and written, to a wide range of audiences.
  • Experience coordinating field crews, students, and/or volunteers.

Assets:

  • MSAccess, FileMakerPro, Adobe InDesign, QGIS knowledge.
  • Topographic surveying experience.
  • Overseeing a construction project experience.
  • Amphibian experience.
  • Bullfrog control experience.
  • Knowledge of local land use practices.

Application Process:

Submit a cover letter, which clearly outlines how you meet the above requirements, and corresponding resume to admin@fraservalleyconservancy.ca

Applications will be accepted until midnight Sunday, August 20th, interviews will be conducted later that week and may include a practical component. There may be a testing component as part of the interview process, and you may be asked to provide an example of a habitat restoration plan or implementation report that you have produced.

Only applicants short-listed for the interview process will be contacted.

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!

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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).