The Northern Sentinel offices resounded with a staffer’s high-pitched screech this week – the bug-eating Western Toad had visited to announce its annual return.
Terrace-based amphibian expert Norma Kerby said while Western Toads may be the most likely amphibian that people in Kitimat might see, provincially their populations are under threat due to loss of habitat, especially breeding and rearing ponds.
“They are also under threat by development – mortality associated with roads, and predators such as crows and ravens when cover for the toads is removed.
“The toads in Kitimat are vulnerable to both of these impacts on their populations,” said Kerby.
Kerby said the photo shows a toadlet (this year’s tadpole which has undergone metamorphosis) migrating away from a rearing pond across a road.
“It most likely will be run over. In urbanized areas, of every 1,000 eggs laid in the spring, less than one will ever survive to become a breeding toad,” said Kerby.
Numbers-wise, Western Toads may not be the most common amphibian in Kitimat – they are the most visible because the salamanders and newts spend most of their lives subterranean (above ground).
A good reason to look after Western Toads in your garden? The B.C. Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection website says they are great at catching a wide variety of insects and invertebrates.
“Over 95 percent of their adult diet consists of flying insects, ants, beetles, sowbugs, crayfish, spiders, centipedes, slugs and earthworms. They will also take larger items if given a chance.”