It’s time for the annual toad roundup!

Adult western toads, like this one, descend from upland habitat in the spring, laying their eggs on the shoreline of Summit Lake. The juvenile toads start emerging from the lake around mid-August and make their way back to upland areas where they forage until they reach adulthood, returning then to Summit Lake to breed, completing the migration circle. The total annual toadlet migration at Summit Lake is estimated to be in the millions. But they do have to cross the highway…. Photo courtesy of the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program
Western toads are listed federally as a species of Special Concern and are blue listed in the province. Once widespread throughout North America, their distribution has diminished considerably in recent decades, especially in the United States and south coast B.C. where some local populations have disappeared. Habitat loss and road mortality are thought to be among the leading causes for population decline. Photo courtesy of the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program

The third annual western toadlet event — Toadfest — will occur at Summit Lake Provincial Park, just southeast of Nakusp, on Wednesday August 22, between 4 pm and 7 pm., and Thursday August 23, between 9 am and noon.

The free community event to toadlets safely across the highway, has quickly become one of the summer highlights for many families in the Kootenay region.

The event is coordinated by the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP), with support from B.C. Parks, the Ministry of  Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO), the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (BCMOT), and Columbia Basin Trust.

“The timing of the event is right at the start of the annual toadlet migration so we can’t guarantee numbers, and the emphasis is on education and awareness about this important western toad breeding area,” Trevor Oussoren, program manager for the FWCP in the Columbia region, said in a statement. “The event provides an opportunity to talk to biologists, understand the life cycle of the western toad, and learn about other species in the watershed — and of course to have lots of fun in the process, as there will be games and live music as well!”

The FWCP is a partnership between BC Hydro, the Province of B.C., and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

In addition to carrying safely across the highway, there will be other activities, including finding live aquatic insects, amphibians, and reptiles, information on invasive plants, face painting and a chance to explore a simulated “toad tunnel.”

Every year tens of thousands of western toadlets, each not more than the size of a dime, get squashed as they attempt their first migration from the shoreline of Summit Lake, across Highway 6, to upland habitat.

In 2006 the B.C. Ministry of Environment and BCMOT began to address the situation through the design and installation of directional fencing and culverts (“toad tunnels”) to safely guide the toads underneath the highway. Project partners are currently working to monitor and evaluate their effectiveness.

“Summit Lake is one of the key breeding areas for western toads in the Kootenay region, if not the province,” Chris Price, Arrow Area Supervisor for BC Parks, said in the statement. “We need to ensure that it remains that way for generations to come, and a key part in doing so is ensuring that local communities know what we have here.”

This event is free and containers for carrying toadlets across the road will be provided. Parking is limited and carpooling is encouraged. For more information about the event visit or call 250-354-6333.