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Western Toad migration study springs into action

Squamish project's second research season set to begin
BC Parks Conservation Specialist Joanna Hirner during a survey of the Western Toad migration in Squamish. Photo: RHONDA O'GRADY

As spring is just around the corner, so are the Western toads.

And behind them are the volunteers gathering information about their upcoming seasonal migration as part of the Western Toad Migration project.

The Squamish Environment Society (SES) launched the project in partnership with BC Parks last year to learn more about the toads' breeding cycle at Alice Lake Provincial Park.

Knowing when the dime-size toadlets embark on their water-to-land mass migration can help protect them on their journey through public awareness and possibly temporary trail closures.

The toadlets are vulnerable to being crushed by hikers and bikers during their crossings between Fawn and Edith Lakes—known as Toad Alley.

"The data the volunteers are generating is invaluable for helping us protect this species," BC Parks conservation specialist, Joanna Hirner, said in a press release.

So far, there have been indications that the toad populations may be declining in the park, but more data is needed. The Western toad is listed as a federal species of concern.

The research project needs boat-ready volunteers to conduct two-to-four hour surveys on foot and by kayak this March through August.

Researchers will collect data on the toads as they breed, during tadpole development and through toadlet migration. Volunteers will be trained in amphibian identification and survey protocols, and need no previous experience.

"It's a great way to learn about what's going on in the lakes and surrounding forest," SES project coordinator Rachel Shephard said in the release.

Hikers are also asked to send photos to SES of their toad sightings via the app iNaturalist.

"We know there are people who hike the Four Lakes Trail regularly and we'd love to tap into that resource," Shephard said. "The iNaturalist app is a great way to submit observations. But people can also email us photos, and include the date, time and location."

To get involved or find more information, email

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