The relative scarcity of toadlets for Toadfest 2015 didn’t deter visitors from attending, nor did it seem to dampen their enthusiasm for it. More than 200 adults and children dropped in to Summit Lake Provincial Park over the three-hour session on August 12 to learn about Western Toads and other species in the area, and safely transport some toadlets across the highway.
The event, now in its sixth year, 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, Columbia Basin Trust, and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI).
“The toadlet migration has certainly been a huge one this year, but due to the very hot summer they emerged extremely early — the earliest some local residents have ever observed,” says FWCP Columbia Region Manager, Crystal Klym. “The bulk of them had moved in late July and early August which meant that it was more like a toadlet treasure hunt at Toadfest rather than a mass toadlet collection session. Most people, however, managed to find some, and learn lots about other species and the local ecosystem in the process which is the main thing.”
There are three migrations that the Blue-listed (vulnerable) Western Toad make around Summit Lake. The adults descend to the lake to breed as soon as the ice comes off in spring, they return to the upland areas a few weeks later, and their offspring — the toadlets, each about the size of a dime — emerge from the lake in their hundreds of thousands in summer to migrate to upland habitat where they disperse and mature.
Each migration means that they have to cross Highway 6 and risk being squashed by the traffic. The installation of toad tunnels — the newest in 2014 — together with toad fencing, has significantly reduced road mortality of the toadlets.
Typically attendees collect between 10 and 20 thousand toadlets each year at Toadfest but this year the count was under 1000. The toadlet migration was also unusual this year in that it was heavier towards the east end of Summit Lake.
The FWCP is a partnership between BC Hydro, the Province of B.C., Fisheries and Oceans Canada, First Nations and Public Stakeholders, to conserve and enhance fish and wildlife impacted by BC Hydro dams.
The public is reminded not to collect toadlets outside of this organized event.