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You can help toadlets cross the road near Nakusp

This western toadlet was helped safely across the highway during a previous Toadfest
This western toadlet was helped safely across the highway during a previous Toadfest, but typically many tens of thousands are not so lucky. The public are reminded not to pick up and move toadlets outside of the organized event. Photo credit: Barb Houston

Culverts help young toads, but they still need our help August 27-28

Summit Lake Provincial Park, just south of Nakusp, will once again become a focal point for young and old alike as the public is invited to help toadlets safely across Highway 6.

The fourth annual western toadlet event, or Toadfest, runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday August 27, and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, August 28.

The event is coordinated by the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP), with support from B.C. Parks, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO), Columbia Basin Trust, and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (BCMOT).

"This event provides an opportunity to talk to biologists, understand the life cycle of the western toad, and learn about other species in the watershed – and of course to carry a few toadlets across the road, and have lots of fun in the process," says Trevor Oussoren, program manager for the FWCP in the Columbia region.

The Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program is a partnership between BC Hydro, the Province of B.C., First Nations and local community groups to support fish and wildlife impacted by the construction of BC Hydro dams.

Toadlets' migration can be treacherous

Every year tens of thousands of western toadlets, each not more than the size of a dime, get squashed as they attempt their first migration from the shoreline of Summit Lake, across Highway 6, to upland habitat.

In addition to helping toadlets safely across the highway, there will be other activities including a display of live aquatic insects, amphibians, and reptiles.You can also learn about invasive plants as well as bears and other wild animals living in the region.

In 2006 the B.C. Ministry of Environment and BCMOT began to address the situation through the design and installation of directional fencing and culverts called "toad tunnels", to safely guide the toads underneath the highway. Project partners are currently working to monitor and evaluate their effectiveness.

"We want Summit Lake to remain one of the key breeding areas for western toads in the Kootenay region, and the province,” said Arrow Area Supervisor for B.C. Parks, Chris Price. "A key part in doing so is ensuring that local communities know the importance of it, and get involved in conservation efforts like this, quite literally, in a hands-on way."

To ensure the safety of event participants, traffic control, donated by Yellowhead Road and Bridge (YRB), will be in place during the scheduled times, and drivers should expect very minor delays.

"Safety is paramount," added Oussoren. "And under no circumstances should people try to move these toadlets outside of the organized event."

Camping, parking information

Camping spaces at Summit Lake Provincial Park cannot be reserved. To learn more about B.C. Parks, visit www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks.

The Toadfest event is free, and containers for carrying the toadlets across the road will be provided. Parking is limited and carpooling is encouraged. For more information about the Toadfest event visit www.fwcp.ca, or call 250-354-6333.

More about western toads:

  • Western toads are listed federally as a species of special concern, and are blue listed in B.C.
  • Once widespread throughout North America, their distribution has diminished considerably in recent decades, especially in the United States and south coast B.C. where some local populations have disappeared.
  • Habitat loss and road mortality are thought to be among the leading causes for population decline.
  • Adult western toads descend from upland habitat in the spring, laying their eggs on the shoreline of Summit Lake.
  • The juvenile toads start emerging from the lake around mid-August and make their way back to upland areas where they forage until they reach adulthood, returning then to Summit Lake to breed, completing the migration circle.
  • The total annual toadlet migration at Summit Lake is estimated to be in the millions.
  • There are also significant concentrations of western toads at nearby Box and Beaver Lakes.