You may have already heard the spring peepers or wood frogs
calling in your backyard. Or perhaps you've noticed salamanders
crawling over rocks in your local stream. The arrival of
spring brings the return of reptiles and amphibians to the Vermont
The frog calls you hear each spring are part of the animal's
breeding behavior, according to Steve Parren, wildlife diversity
program director for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife
"Many frogs and salamanders are already well into their breeding
season," said Parren "By late May, we should start seeing turtles
crossing the road to build nests in the sandy embankments."
Amphibians migrate by the thousands each spring in search of
breeding pools. This migration can frequently take them across
roads and highways, leading to high rates of mortality among some
species. Roadkill mortality, along with forest fragmentation and
loss of wetland habitat, has contributed to the decline of several
of Vermont's reptile and amphibian species.
To mitigate roadkill mortality, the Fish & Wildlife
Department has been collecting data to identify stretches of road
that are hotspots for amphibian migrations. Department staff
has been working closely with Jim Andrews at the Vermont Reptile
& Amphibian Atlas Project and other groups to coordinate
volunteers who help move the animals across the road and make
drivers aware of these potentially high-mortality sites.
The Fish & Wildlife Department is also working with VTrans
to include culverts and wildlife barriers in road construction
plans. "Most amphibian migration takes place over several
rainy spring nights," said Mark Ferguson, nongame biologist for the
Fish & Wildlife Department. "On these nights, drivers should
slow down on roads near vernal pools and wetlands, or try to use an
alternate route if possible."
Turtle activity peaks from late May through June. At this time
of year, drivers are urged to keep an eye out for turtles in the
road, particularly when driving near ponds and wetlands. "When you
spot a turtle in the road, you may be able to help it across the
road if you are in a safe spot to get out of your car," said
Parren. "For a snapping turtle, we recommend pushing the turtle
across the road in the direction it was going with an object like a
shovel to avoid getting too close to the turtle's face."
To report an amphibian or reptile sighting, visit the Vermont
Reptile & Amphibian Atlas website at
Photo courtesy of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife