Wildlife Watch: Make way for amphibians

Published: Mar. 29, 2022 at 1:44 PM EDT
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WEST RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - As the weather warms up, many critters are on the move. That includes the annual amphibian migration to vernal pools and wetlands to breed.

At the Whipple Hollow Wildlife Management Area in West Rutland, Vermont Fish and Wildlife herpetologist Luke Groff is looking for signs of amphibians. “Springtime in Vermont is time for amphibian migration,” Groff said. “Right now they are kind of waking up, shaking off the winter and bee-lining it to their breeding site.”

“So now, during or after snowmelt or during March and April, when temperatures are right and precipitation is right. It’s when a lot of our amphibians will be coming out of their overwintering habitats and moving into their breeding habitats,” Groff said. He says the migration time is an exciting for wildlife watchers. “It’s kind of a social thing. You go out to an area where there is a road bisecting a breeding site and an upland winter habitat and that’s when the critters would cross the road. You are typically looking after sundown, during rainy nights, when temps are above 40 degrees. And you can imagine that sometimes you get out there and there are a couple of frogs, salamanders crossing the road. Sometimes, it’s hundreds and sometimes it’s thousands depending on the year. Depending on the time, it could be amazing.”

Groff says those frogs, toads, and salamanders have one interest. “They are going to breeding sites. A lot of the species that we are talking about right now are vernal pool amphibians, so they are breeding in a wetland much like this one. This is a vernal pool that will temporarily dry. There are no fish but some of these species will also use other wetland types,” he said. “These amphibian crossings can be found statewide. There are some well-known ones, there are some ones that haven’t been found yet. If you find an amphibian crossing, it would be great that you could report it.”

Groff reminds would-be watchers at road crossings to not go alone, to wear reflective clothing, and enjoy from a distance nature’s way of welcoming in a new season. “It is a sign of spring. It’s a sign that winter is behind us, spring is in front of us or on us, and warmer days are coming.

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