Habitat destruction in and around wetlands is one of the primary impacts to Western toad and Columbia spotted frog populations, said the Baker Creek Enhancement Society. (Baker Creek Enhancement Society Facebook photo)

Spring amphibian migration underway at Quesnel’s West Fraser Timber Park

Columbia spotted frogs and Western toads are migrating to the pond

  • Apr. 23, 2021 12:00 a.m.

The pond at West Fraser Timber Park is a memorable scene each spring for Amanda Vibert with the Baker Creek Enhancement Society (BCES) as frogs and toads migrate from their winter homes to breed.

“I like hearing them,” she said.

“That’s probably one of the most interesting things is going by the pond, and you walk slowly by the shoreline looking and looking, and then suddenly you can hear a little rustling in the bulrushes and hear a frog or a toad call.”

Columbia spotted frogs or Western toads in the warmer parts of the day may be seen in the human-made pond near the shoreline soaking up some sunshine.

The Western toad can be distinguished from the Columbia spotted frog by its warty skin and pale coloured stripe running down the middle of its back.

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Both amphibians can be found in B.C’s Cariboo, Thompson, Skeena, Omineca, Peace, Okanagan and Lower Mainland regions.

As the month progresses, they migrate further to the pond, where park users can often hear their calls and see them mating.

“In May, we can observe the egg masses,” Vibert said.

“The Columbia spotted frog eggs are laid in a clump and the Western toad eggs are laid in a strand almost like a string of pearls, and as the month progresses, those will hatch into tadpoles.”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, BCES would complete field trips to the park with school and community groups to discuss the life cycle of the frogs and toads. Because that has been put on hold, the society has been turning to social media as a public educational tool where they shared a video captured last year by their summer student on their Facebook page.

Vibert advises residents not to enter the pond and keep their pets, especially dogs, out of it.

Happy Earth Day!!!!

Take a look at the video below on the life cycle of the Western Toad!

Posted by Baker Creek Enhancement Society on Thursday, April 22, 2021

“The park is a place where people like to come and walk their dogs because it’s a beautiful place to be but it is a bylaw requirement that dogs are kept on leash in the park, and it’s important to respect that because once people let their dog into the pond or the wetland they could be either disturbing mating frogs and toads, or squishing eggs or tadpoles depending on the time of the year.”

Observations of the Columbia spotted frog and Western toad can be reported to the B.C. Frogwatch program that the B.C. Government said helps them identify declining trends or loss of species, areas of high conservation concern and conservation measures that need to be taken.

BCES hopes to launch its own monitoring program next spring.

“In our area, we see a lot of them, but provincially they are a species of concern, specifically the Western toad, and we need to protect them,” Vibert said.

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Quesnel Cariboo Observer