POST #4 ON THE 2013 AMPHIBIAN MIGRATION
by MacKenzie Hall, Amphibian Crossing Project Coordinator
Karen Ruzycki gives a salamander a lift. Photo: M. Hall
Easter Sunday is a celebration of rebirth, resurrection, springtime, life. And this Easter Sunday – right on cue – a warm day turned into a mild night, the mild night met with rain, and together they gave rise to lots and lots of life. The amphibian migration was underway…in a big way!
Our teams were ready. Despite heavy bellies and a long day with family, at least 50 trained volunteers came out to “guard” the animals at road-crossing hot spots. From nightfall to around 11:00 pm we escorted, ferried, and tallied more than 3,000 salamanders and frogs across! (Numbers are still coming in from other teams.)
American toad in transit. Photo: Karen Ruzycki
It was a heart-pounding pace, often with multiple animals entering the roadway at once. They didn’t seem to understand the danger, but we humans were darting in and out, racing against car tires and grabbing up slippery critters as fast as slippery critters can be grabbed…while still being safe, orderly, and polite to passing motorists. A lot of drivers stopped to see what all the speed-walking was about. One woman said “God bless!” when I showed her a fat female spotted salamander and told her about the migration. Another guy must have been a local because he just asked “how many tonight?”
Everyone had an exhilarating night – the kind of migration night we plan for but don’t often get. It was a lot of fun and we saved a lot of lives. From the vehicle count, most of those little animals wouldn’t have stood a chance. A few still didn’t.
Before heading home from the site where I was working, I took a midnight stroll down to the vernal pool. It’s so neat to watch salamanders swimming around. Especially the big spotted salamanders. They spend almost their entire year underground in the woods, yet they are graceful and natural in the water. They even look excited to be there, swirling around each other in contest and attraction. I felt lucky to know about this wonderful thing. It felt great to have made some of it possible. Look at those gorgeous animals! And their impossibly bright yellow spots! They are colors lost in the night, but not by our watchful lights.
They made it! Spotted salamanders in the pool. Photo: M. Hall