On March 20, 2024

Slow down for frogs and salamanders

By Luke Groff, VTF&W
Vermont Fish & Wildlife is asking drivers to slow down and be cautious when traveling at night in early spring or to take alternate routes to avoid driving near ponds and wetlands where salamanders and frogs breed.

Vermont Fish & Wildlife is asking drivers to slow down and be cautious when traveling at night in early spring or to take alternate routes to avoid driving roads near wetlands and ponds that salamanders and frogs cross during their breeding season.

Every year, typically in early spring, many of Vermont’s amphibians leave their overwintering sites and migrate to the wetlands and ponds where they will breed and lay eggs. The timing of this annual event, termed “Big Night(s)”, coincides with melting snowpack, thawing soils, relatively warm evening temperatures, and rainfall. Due to this year’s mild winter, these conditions are expected to align and trigger spring amphibian migration earlier than usual.

“One of the benefits of checking out amphibian road crossings,” said Fish & Wildlife herpetologist Luke Groff, “is that you can see many individuals and species in a short period and small area, and some species may not be seen the rest of the year.”

The spotted and blue-spotted salamanders, for example, belong to a group called the “mole salamanders,” because after breeding, they retreat underground or under logs or stumps, and are rarely seen until the next spring.

Groff is encouraging Vermonters to explore the roads near their home and report amphibian road crossings to the Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Atlas (vtherpatlas.org/sighting-submission-form). 

If it is safe to take pictures of the migrating amphibians, please include them in your report. This information is used by Fish & Wildlife, the Agency of Transportation and other conservation partners to assess the need for wildlife passages and barriers that allow all wildlife, not just frogs and salamanders, to more safely cross roadways.

Vermonters who wish to contribute to the Fish & Wildlife Dept.’s work to conserve frog and salamander populations can donate to the Nongame Wildlife Fund on their state income tax form or on the Vermont Fish & Wildlife website: vtfishandwildlife.com.

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