School summer holidays may be winding down, but there is at least one more family-oriented activity to mark on your calendar before they are completely over: Toadfest 2014!
This free event is to be held at Summit Lake Provincial Park just south of Nakus on Tuesday, August 26, between 4 and 7 pm, and on Wednesday, August 27, between 10 am and 1 pm.
Toadfest is a great opportunity for the public to get up-close and very personal with the westerns toads – especially the tiny toadlets – of Summit Lake. The event is to both help the western toad population at Summit Lake, and to raise awareness about their natural history, habitat needs and the challenges that they face. Every year, for example, tens of thousands of toadlets, each not more than the size of a dime, get squashed by vehicles as they attempt their first migration from the shoreline of Summit Lake, across Highway 6, to upland habitat. Members of the public are encouraged to help these defenceless amphibians collecting and safely transporting them across the highway.
A statement said Toadfest is coordinated each year by the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP), with support from B.C. Parks, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Columbia Basin Trust, and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
“While they are still relatively strong in numbers at Summit Lake, their distribution is shrinking and the centre of the world’s distribution has shifted from the USA to B.C.,” says Trevor Oussoren, program manager for the FWCP in the Columbia region – a partnership between BC Hydro, the Province of B.C., First Nations and public stakeholders. “They are an indicator of ecological health and an important part of complex food web, so it’s extremely important that we look after them.”The event, now in its fifth year, provides an excellent opportunity to talk to biologists, and get ‘hands-on’ experience at helping an amphibian in need. Western toads are listed federally as a species of concern and are Blue-listed (vulnerable) in the province.
In addition to helping toadlets safely across the highway, there will be other activities to see and do, including live aquatic insects, amphibians, and reptiles on display, as well as information on invasive plants, bears and other wild animals living in the region.
“The very dry, warm weather we experienced in July and early August seems to have resulted in the migration being one to two weeks earlier than usual,” says event organizer Angus Glass. “So we may not be hitting its peak, but still intend to safely carry as many toadlets across the road as possible.”
The public are reminded not to collect or transport any toadlets across the highway outside of this organized event.
Camping spaces at Summit Lake Provincial Park cannot be reserved. To learn more about BC Parks, visit www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks. The event is free and containers for carrying the toadlets across the road will be provided. Parking is limited and carpooling is encouraged. For more information about Toadfest call 250-354- 6333.