Wednesday July 21, 2010

Environment News


Here Toady – Gone Tomorrow

Western Toad migration set to begin any day



Peaceful Hornby Lake is home to thousands of Western Toads.                         Voice file photos.


his year on account of the weather, everything seems late, even the frogs. Last year they got started on their migration at Hornby Lake on July 11.


Back in the early 80's Sega came out with a popular video game called "Frogger" where the player helped the frog get across roads packed with speeding cars. That was just a video game but at Hornby Lake this is real. Groups of concerned citizens will he helping the frogs to cross Elkview Rd and Huston Rd. this week at the small lake located in the Ryder Lake area.

Frogs in general are an important part of the ecosystem. Aside from being mosquito-eating machines, they are bio-indicators and having a lot of them indicates a healthy environment. The number of frogs and toads around the world has been dropping. These declines have been connected with many causes: habitat loss and fragmentation, chemical pollution, increased ultraviolet radiation, acid rain, the commercial harvest of frogs for food, and unknown causes. The decline in the number of frogs can be directly related to humans and their increasing demands on the environment.

The Western toads from the wetland around Hornby Lake in the Ryder Lake region are even more special because they are borderline endangered.

It's a case where man invaded nature's space and nature is taking a pounding. British Columbia has very few areas where terrestrial toads incubate in the wild. Hornby Lake is one of those special places. Each year about this time, hundreds of thousands hatch and migrate away to their summer habitat to feed and eventually to hibernate on higher ground.

It's the circle of life however in the Hornby Lake area that circle is broken right in the middle by a couple of fairly busy roads and countless frogs are killed as a result.

In fact so many toadlets were being run over in the area around Hornby Lake that in 2008 a concerned group of planet stewards from the came up with a plan to help them with their migration by picking them and carrying them across the roadways.

Volunteer coordinator Petra Wykpis, who also lives in the area, said it was bad. "You could hear them popping under your car tires," she said. Even with a culvert installed the frogs still need help to cross unharmed so volunteers congregate on both ends of Elkview road and don reflective vests and gloves and grab a bucket and start frogging. The frogs are very sensitive to chemicals and the gloves are in case a volunteer has suntan lotion on their hands.

Steve Clegg, Environmental Stewardship Coordinator for the Fraser Valley Conservancy Society, told the Voice in an e-mail that they have been keeping track of when the toads are on the move.

"Through monitoring various ponds and wetlands in the area, we have found that the toadlets have been leaving the water over the past couple days. As they finalize their metamorphosis and strengthen their legs, they will be crossing our roads soon. This crossing could be as early as Monday July 19th or anytime this week" said Clegg.

"One of the best ways you can help during this migration season is to volunteer to take the Huston Rd detour route whether the other roads are closed or not. Further, try to pick up your mail early in the morning or late at night when the juveniles typically don't cross," added Clegg.

The latest news from their website indicates that Thursday the toads may start their migration.

The FVC group is also trying to raise money for the frogs are holding a “Toonies for Toads” drive. For 12 toonies (that’s a monthly donation of $2) you will also receive a year’s membership to FVC and three editions of their newsletter.

If you are interested in helping out, the times the group needs help is when the roads aren't closed. They are looking for volunteers to help out from July 8 to 19, 2009 for a variety of shift times. If you would like to volunteer to help man barricades to ensure emergency vehicles and local residents can get through, please contact Natashia here or visit their website at:



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