Migrating toads died on Langley roads in greater numbers this year, because local environmentalists were restricted by COVID-19.
The annual toad migration in South Brookswood starts in a pair of ponds near 18th Avenue, when thousands of western toads hatch in the summer.
From there, the toads make a short migration to the north, crossing 20th Avenue, into the relatively wooded areas of South Brookswood and Fernridge.
For the past several years, staff and volunteers with A Rocha Canada, an environmental organization, have diverted a significant number of the toads through a culvert under 20th Avenue by building a fence that funnells them away from the street.
“We saw higher numbers dead this year, because we didn’t have the fence this year because of COVID,” said Laura Newberry, an environmental scientist with A Rocha.
Surveys on 20th Avenue found about 2,500 dead toads this year, compared to 891 in 2019, Newberry said.
Every year, signs are posted on 20th Avenue west of 200th Street warning drivers to take another route if possible during toad migration season.
Fortunately, a significant number of toads were spawned this year. A rough count estimated about 100,000 toads hatched and headed off on the migration in 2020, said Newberry.
The data gathered by a year without the fence make a good case for it, and Newberry said A Rocha hopes to build it again next year.
The migration began this year in July and peaked over a couple of weeks. Smaller numbers of toads continued to trickle out of the ponds into mid to late August, but the migration is now over.