Residents and visitors heading to Lost Lake Park will notice some excitement over the next few weeks as tens of thousands of tiny Western “toadlets” make the great migration from the shores of Lost Lake into the surrounding forest.
Western Toads are a species of special concern and are very vulnerable to changes in their environment. To help protect them during their most vulnerable stage of life the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) has installed special black plastic fencing designed to act as a migration corridor for the toadlets and safely guide them out of the park. This fencing has been extremely effective, and there are now thousands of toadlets piling up behind the fencing.
Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said, “Park visitors find the great Western Toad migration fascinating, and we are lucky to be able to showcase such a natural phenomenon in one of Whistler’s most popular parks. The Western Toads are an important part of the Lost Lake ecosystem and our biomonitoring program.”
She added, “I encourage everyone to respect signage installed in areas where some toadlets have moved outside of the migration corridor fencing. There are volunteers on site equipped with plastic cups and gloves to help scoop up these toadlets and move them back to safety behind the fencing. It’s important for people not to touch the tadpoles or toadlets, which are easily damaged by salts, oils, soaps and sunscreen found on our hands.”
At this time, there are no temporary closures in effect, as the toads have not made it to the Beach Cut Trail parallel to the beach. Areas such as the park access road, parking lot, event lawn and portions of the Valley Trail may be subject to temporary closures, if high volumes of toadlets begin passing through. The food trucks scheduled for Lost Lake Park may also have to be temporarily relocated and the BC Transit route to the parking lot altered.
The RMOW operates a biomonitoring program focusing on indicator species, meaning species which can be studied to provide insight on the greater health of the ecosystem. Lost Lake’s Western Toad population has been monitored as part of this study for the past 11 years.
Eight years ago the RMOW began installing permanent and temporary measures at Lost Lake Park to help protect this population. Protection measures are largely focused on tadpole and toadlet life stages, during which the population is most vulnerable.
Last year a record of 41 breeding Western Toad pairs were observed in Lost Lake. Each female can lay up to 50,000 eggs resulting in the emergence of hundreds of thousands of tadpoles, which quickly group together forming large black clouds along the shoreline of Lost Lake. By July and August tadpoles have metamorphosed into tiny toadlets and are ready for the great migration from lake to forest. This migration can often appear as a moving carpet, as tens of thousands of dime-sized toadlets make their way across Lost Lake Park.
Learn more at whistler.ca/toads.