Editor’s note: This story has been changed from the printed version so as to correct a statement that the Granby Wilderness Society organized it. The amphibian migration was organized by the Boundary Habitat Stewards, of which the Granby Wilderness Society is a member.
The Boundary Habitat Society spent the past month carefully watching and aiding amphibians cross Highway 3 from the Gilpin Grasslands to the Boothman’s Oxbow
Though the migration occurs twice a year, this is the first time volunteers set up two fences to prevent the amphibians from getting onto the highway.
Volunteers checked the fences each night, documenting how many amphibians were migrating and in which direction they were headed.
“There’s a big migration that happens between Boothman’s Oxbow and the Gilpin Grasslands and a bunch of us have documented this over the last two years in the spring and fall,” explained Jenny Coleshill, biologist and project manager for Granby Wilderness Society. “We’re going to be ready for (the migration) this spring and it’s mostly going to be about which species they are and what direction they’re going and timing.”
Coleshill noted that Ducks Unlimited floods the Oxbow each year, which helps the amphibians lay their eggs before they go back to the Gilpin Grasslands until next spring.
With documentation from the past two years, the volunteers were able to determine where to set up the two fences, which was linked to the proximity to the pond at Oxbow.
The volunteers found many long-toed salamanders and pacific tree frogs, and the occasional tiger salamander and spadefoot toad.
“The long-toe salamanders we have found are actually coming from the pond, so they’ve been coming from south to north,” said Coleshill. “That means they leave earlier than the frogs to the pond; so they’ve been coming back to the grasslands.
“With the frogs, they’ve been going north to south towards the pond, so we’ve been picking them up and putting them into buckets and carrying them across the highway and dropping them off.”
The tadpoles will morph during the summertime and sometime during October they will head back to the Gilpin Grasslands.
There was a lot of information gathered during this migration and the data needs to be processed, stated Coleshill.
“From the information we’ve gathered, it’s quite specific,” said Coleshill. “For the mass migration it has to be over 10 C, it has to be raining and they go from half-an-hour after dusk to around 11 p.m.”
Coleshill and the Granby Wildlife Society would like to thank International Forest Products Limited for its donation of lumber wrap for making the fence, Emcon Services Inc. for the sand, the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resources helped with logistics and the Ministry of Transportation for providing headlights, reflective vests and stakes.