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50,000-strong toad stampede shuts down Whistler road

Click to play video: 'Saving the Lost Lake toads in Whistler'
Saving the Lost Lake toads in Whistler
Volunteers in Whistler are going to extraordinary efforts to save some tiny amphibians. They are using sticks, leaves and gloved hands to help the toads cross the road. Jordan Armstrong has more – Aug 10, 2016

The questions is not why, but how did the toad cross the road? In Whistler, the answer is with a lot of help from people.

Dozens of volunteers are using sticks, leaves and their glove-covered hands to herd an estimated 50,000 migratory Western Toadlets away from a road and bike path at Lost Lake. The road is shut down and cyclists are urged to watch out for the tiny amphibians.

Every spring, about 50 adult toads make their way down to the lake to mate and lay eggs. And by summer, toadlets, about the size of a fingernail, leave the wetlands for the forest.

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But fewer than 500 of the 50,000 survive the journey; they get crushed by cars and bikes or eaten by animals. Now the community is trying to improve their odds.

“The Western Toad is an endangered species, so we’re doing everything in our power to protect them. Even just a slight intervention to get them over the pathway is really vital to their success as a species,” said Whistler resident Shayna Ross-Kelly.

A tunnel exists to route the toadlets from the lake to the forest, but for reasons unknown, most of the toadlets have decided not to use it this year.
Ross-Kelly and the other volunteers will be at Lost Lake until the migration finishes, perhaps in a week.

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