Ontario’s Amphibian Breeding Migration is Just Around the Corner

It’s happening! Ontario’s amphibians are waking up from a shorter winter nap than usual.

Frogs, toads, newts, and salamanders have already been seen out and about by contributors to the Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas Facebook group. These little guys will soon be beginning their spring breeding migrations, so please, be cautious drivers on warm, rainy evenings on side roads running through woodlots.

Amphibians are killed on roads at rates higher than any other vertebrate group, and early spring and fall are their worst times of year as they travel between their overwintering and breeding sites. Leopard frogs, for example, are known to travel up to 3.2 km.

Thankfully, the routes amphibians take between sites vary little year to year, so if we can identify these key movement corridors, we can identify the roads that most need roadkill mitigation efforts. One famous amphibian mitigation success is Burlington’s King Road in the Niagara Escarpment, identified as an important corridor for the Endangered Jefferson Salamander. Every year since 2011, the City of Burlington and Conservation Halton work together to enact a temporary (2-3 week) road closure in March to allow these amphibians to cross safely. While this is not possible on every road, it is a wonderful example of a community coming together to save such a small, fragile species. 

You too can help by stopping to assist amphibians cross roads safely, and by submitting your observations to our iNaturalist project, Wildlife on Roads in Ontario. Your observations will serve to inform us where new roadkill mitigation is most needed, so we can work to save as many lives as possible.

Kari Gunson
Kari Gunson

Kari Gunson, a practitioner in road ecology since 1999, initiated the 'Wildlife on Roads' program recently in response to a need to inspire and harness grassroots efforts for implementation of mitigation solutions.

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