If you’re planning to take a road trip to Whistler or a local resident, expect some changes to Lost Lake Park while the Resort Municipality prepares for the annual great Western Toad migration that’s seeing tens of thousands of tiny ‘toadlets’ move from the shores into the surrounding forest over the next few weeks.
According to the municipality, the Western Toads are of special concern, and the amphibians can be sensitive to change — so to help protect the species, it may be closing portions of Lost Lake Park for the migration.
In a phone interview with Daily Hive Vancouver, Manager of Environmental Stewardship, Heather Beresford, said over the last week the toads have started to emerge on to the beach and that it can take a few weeks for them to migrate.
Explaining that the toad migration can be weather dependent, Beresford said that July has been a bit cooler in Whistler, “so [the toads] may be able to move more quickly,” but when it’s really hot, “they all hunker down in the day and only move first thing in the morning and evenings, but with this cooler weather they might be able to move throughout the day and finish the migration faster.”
Beresford said one major challenge that Western Toads face is habitat loss.
“It’s around the world when you think of how humans have treated lakeshores and wetlands and forests, you know, through urban development and logging and everything that we do, we just fragment the habitat and reduce the areas where they can spawn, because as you know, amphibians live part of their life cycle in the water and part on land, so we humans are affecting both aspects of their habitat.”
The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) operates a biomonitoring program that focuses on species that can be studied to provide information on the ecosystem’s greater health, which includes monitoring Lost Lake’s Western Toad population for the past 12 years. The RMOW said to help protect the Western Toad population, nine years ago it began installing measures that are focused on tadpole and toadlet life stages where the population is most vulnerable.
Beresford said as a community, Whistler has always said protecting the natural environment is as important as the residents, “as individuals I think we have a moral obligation to do what we can to minimize our negative impacts on the earth, it’s the circle of life, the ecosystem webs, are all connected and to be able to leave space for other species to live out their life cycles, you know, we are all richer when there is more diversity among other species.”
The municipality is encouraging you to go to Lost Lake Park to see the migration and learn about the Western Toads from naturalists who will be on-site — but you are being reminded to step carefully and walk bikes: the toadlets’ size is comparable to the size of a dime, and can be crushed easily.
“If people are here in Whistler, we have naturalists out on-site and volunteers who are happy to share information with people, give kids the opportunity to help move the toads,” Beresford adding that they don’t want anyone to touch the toads without gloves, which can be provided with the cups.
Beresford said families return to Whistler every year just to help the toads with their big move, “it’s a great opportunity to learn something about the natural world and have kind of a unique experience on your vacation.”
Beresford said the kids who participate are awesome because they ‘toad-ally’ get it, “they keep the adults in line to do the right thing.”
Beresford said Lost Lake Park is still open to the public, but some trails are closed, explaining that the closures follow the toads’ migration, which can be unpredictable, so it’s best to check whistler.ca/toads for full details.