Rainy nights are treacherous for tiny travelers
[UPDATE: 3/27/23: Warmer temperatures and rain lead to more movement. There have already been several recent nights of the movement of frogs and salamanders. That’s expected to continue.]
[UPDATE: 3/23/23: With warmer temperatures, if it rains, experts are expecting movement tonight and on wet nights in the coming weeks. Their advice: watch the roadways to allow the amphibians to cross safely.]
[The story below is from March 19, 2022, but sums up the problems of car versus amphibian]:
Rainy spring nights can be a very dangerous time for our local amphibians who have to cross roadways to get to their vernal pool breeding grounds. Many don’t make it. If it’s a warm, rainy night in March or April, there’s a good chance there are frogs and salamanders traveling back and forth. The signed areas are the heaviest crossing locations, but not the only ones.
This Blue-spotted/Jefferson hybrid salamander was among the casualties on the first migration night—March 7, 2022—in Bolton. Environmental scientist Jonathan Shuster, who lives in Bolton, had been working to help amphibians cross that night and found her injured—clipped in the head and jaw by a car.
“She was technically still alive, but not a very good prognosis,” noted Shuster, who has worked with amphibians for years. “I placed her in the vernal pool that she was headed towards. Who knows maybe she will live long enough to breed, but I doubt it.”
According to Mass Audubon, Jefferson salamanders are ‘Listed as “Special Concern” under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act.’ The organization notes that ‘It’s illegal to kill, harass, collect, or possess this salamander.’ Of course, the driver would not have seen it. Though it is possible if you drive very slowly in the rain, with high beams on, to notice movement – even tiny spring peepers. So it’s worth it to drive slowly and let them pass.
Volunteers often come out near the signed areas to help – bringing buckets, gloves, flashlights, and wearing reflective clothing. The goal is to help them cross in the direction they are going before a car comes along.
Vehicles ultimately crush many amphibians each year. Combined with habitat loss, pesticides, and pollution, it’s putting pressure on many species. Here’s how to help: drive slowly or avoid driving in vernal pool areas on rainy spring nights. The National Wildlife Federation also has 5 tips to make your own property more amphibian friendly.
One of the signs currently posted to encourage motorists to slow down