The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today that the annual breeding migrations of salamanders and frogs are underway. Visit the DEC website for more information about this annual event https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHRbsAsnQi8.
“New York hosts an incredible array of amphibians, and an even more amazing volunteer network that helps ensure their survival each spring,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “As the State’s Wildlife Action Plan identifies road mortality as a significant threat to frogs, toads, and salamanders, I encourage all New Yorkers and visitors traveling through our state to keep an eye out for amphibians, and our committed community of volunteers helping them cross the road.”
In the Hudson Valley, community volunteers are documenting their observations as part of DEC’s Amphibian Migrations and Road Crossings Project. Wood frogs and spring peepers got an early jump on migration during the unseasonably warm weather in late February, but the subsequent Nor’easters and cold temperatures delayed further activity. With the arrival of warm spring rains, migration is back underway and amphibians are on the move. The Hudson Valley provides habitat for 85 percent of New York’s amphibian species, and these volunteers are helping ensure this significant regional biodiversity remains part of the state’s rich heritage.
Typically, after the ground starts to thaw in late winter and early spring, species such as spotted salamander and wood frog emerge from underground winter shelters in the forest and walk overland to woodland pools for breeding. In New York, this migration usually occurs on rainy nights in late March and early April, when the night air temperature is above 40F. When these conditions align just so, there can be explosive, “big night” migrations, with hundreds of amphibians on the move, many having to cross roads.
Volunteers of the Amphibian Migrations and Road Crossings Project document Hudson Valley locations where migrations cross roads, record weather and traffic conditions, and identify and count the salamanders, frogs, and toads on the move. The volunteers also carefully help the amphibians to safety cross roads. Now in its tenth year, more than 300 project volunteers have assisted more than 9,000 amphibians cross New York roads.
Recently, suitable migration conditions have returned. On March 29, in many parts of the Hudson Valley, volunteers moved hundreds of amphibians, including spotted salamander, four-toed salamander, northern redback salamander, eastern newt, wood frog, American toad, and spring peeper. DEC expects the migration will continue and expand to northern parts and higher elevations of the region in the coming weeks.
Drivers on New York roads are encouraged to proceed with caution or avoid travel on the first warm, rainy evenings of the season. Amphibians come out after nightfall and are slow moving; mortality can be high even on low-traffic roads.
For more information, visit Amphibian Migrations and Road Crossings on DEC’s website or contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Project volunteers are encouraged to use the hashtag #amphibianmigrationhv in their photos and posts on social media.