How does a Western toadlet cross the road – in great peril unless there are volunteers to help them. August 26th and 27th of 2014 was the 5th Annual Toadfest at Summit Lake. Volunteers from many of the surrounding communities came to assist the toads in their risky migration in hopes that more will survive. It has become one of the highlights of the summer for many families as it is an opportunity for all ages to learn from the several biologists at the event about the life cycle of the Western Toad. You also learn about other species of reptiles and amphibians that live around Summit Lake.
To get an idea of the number of toads earlier in August I suggest you read this article on the Slocan Lake Research Centre site. The article is worth going to just to see the photograph taken August 6th when the toadlets were at the edge of the lake. It gives you an idea of the extent of how big the migration will be. Because migrate they do. They cross Highway 6 from the shoreline of Summit Lake to the uphill on the other side. Those that make it and aren’t squished by cars head to their upland habitat.
As Summit Lake is one of the key breeding areas it is important that as many toadlets make it to the other side as possible. They live most of their lives on the uphill side and hopefully grow to be big toads that come back to the lake as adults to reproduce to start the cycle all over.
This year the Honey Candles staff stopped making beeswax candles on the warm Tuesday afternoon of August 26th and drove to Summit Lake to take part in the celebration of the Western Toad at Toad Fest. We hoped to do our part to escort as many of the toadlets to safety. We were hunting for toadlets in a big brush pile so finding them was harder than an Easter egg hunt as they are about the size of a dime. You can see how tiny they are in Desiree’s hand. They didn’t understand our intentions and most tried to make a fast getaway. We each managed to get several in the buckets provided in spite of the best efforts of the toadlets to evade capture. We then took the precious catch up to the other side of the road and turned them loose wishing them a safe journey the rest of the way.Some of us had a group photo taken with one of the 'toad' biologists. There are five grandparents at Honey Candles and we were all wishing we had our grandkids to share in the fun with us. Maybe another time. On the way home we stopped at the beaver pond to watch a cow moose with this year’s calf. Then we all met for a picnic supper at Fish Lake and discovered more Western toadlets there. All in all it was a satisfying day. It was great way for the staff to get together and do something important for the environment.
I feel very lucky to have Honey Candles owners, Roy and Leah to work with. It takes someone like them to say, “Let’s take the afternoon off and go catch some toads.” When was the last time your boss said that?