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ON Press: Endangered sals to cross road

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Posted by: W von Papineu at Sun Mar 20 16:26:20 2011  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by W von Papineu ]  
   

BURLINGTON POST (Ontario) 18 March 11 Endangered salamanders left to cross King Road at own risk (Tina Depko)
Green-minded drivers may want to plan a detour around the section where King Road meets the escarpment for the next few weeks.
Endangered Jefferson salamanders will start making their way across the road to breeding ponds starting as early as next week.
While city council voted in winter 2010 to temporarily close a portion of King Road every spring to allow the endangered species to cross safely for mating purposes, the road will remain open for the second consecutive year.
Vito Tolone, a senior transportation planner with the city, said there wasn’t enough time to inform residents of a closure, but that the city is committed to the undertaking next spring.
“To do this properly and safely, we need to undertake a full advertising and notification campaign, and install proper interpretive signage and road closures,” said Tolone. “Next spring, we’ll have all the necessary items in place to do the job.” Conservation Halton had been working with city staff about the timing of the temporary closure and are strong proponents of it, according to spokesperson Hassaan Basit.
“They (the salamanders) move on the first warm (anything above four degrees Celsius) rainy nights of spring and ideally the road should be closed for a two- or three-week time period to give them adequate time,” he said.
Now that the closure has been nixed, Basit asks drivers to avoid driving on the north portion of King Road where it meets the escarpment, especially during rainy evenings.
“Avoiding driving on these really wet spring nights when amphibians are moving in general or especially trying to avoid driving near wetlands or other amphibian habitats on these nights… would help prevent road kills in general,” Basit said.
He confirmed that the breeding trek for the little guys is going to start soon, possibly next week.
“I have not seen any out yet myself, but with the snow melting as fast as it is they should be moving shortly, it could be as early as early next week,” Basit said. “The adults will cross back into the forest as soon as they have finished breeding — within a few weeks, usually maybe longer, sometimes a little weather dependent again, they just don’t like moving much when it’s dry. The hatchlings will emerge from the pond mid to late summer, but we do not know much about their dispersal yet — how far they go, etc.” Basit said it is impossible to predict how many Jefferson salamanders might live along King Road, but that every population is precious.
The salamander is protected by Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, which prohibits actions such killing, capturing, possessing, selling or trading the species.
“The Ministry of Natural Resources fact sheet states, ‘Today, the Ontario populations are small, isolated pockets, each with a few hundred salamanders,’” he said.
Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven said he had hoped the road would be closed this spring, but timing issues prevailed.
“There is no plan in 2011 to actually close the road for the salamanders because there are still some unanswered questions in regards to exactly when we would need to do this because apparently the data with regards to the salamander migration is a little uncertain and a little unclear, so we are trying to get more information about that and the last I heard, we had not resolved that issue,” he said.
Craven reinforced that the city is committed to the closure in the future.
“That is a commitment that we’ve made and we will certainly make sure it is done — it is just a question now of how and when we implement it for maximum effect,” he said.
Tolone said that the city is considering a temporary, evening only closure in spring 2012.
“Our research indicates that the migration takes place at night only, when traffic on that stretch of King Road is lower,” he said. “This new information will allow staff to minimize the closure duration and consequently the disruption to drivers while at the same time providing a level of protection for the Jefferson salamander.” He added that the city will be monitoring the situation this year and determining a baseline number of salamanders at risk of being killed by automobiles on King Road.
“This research will help us determine the impact that the road closure has in protecting this species at risk,” he said.
Endangered salamanders left to cross King Road at own risk


   

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