The Western Toad Conservation Project at Lost Lake Park
The western toad (Bufo boreas) is a blue-listed species in British Columbia. This means that it is a species of special concern, sensitive to human activities.
Lost Lake Municipal Park is home to Whistler's largest western toad population. Adult toads breed in the wetland at the south end of Lost Lake. The tadpoles develop in the lake and in the summer the juvenile toads emerge from the water and migrate upland to the surrounding forest areas to begin the terrestrial phase of their lives.
The tadpoles began emerging from the lake in mid-July. The toads piled on the beach for two weeks before starting to migrate to their summer range at the beginning of August. As the toads emerge from the lake, they must cross trails, lawns and roads that are busy with pedestrians, bicycles and cars. Many of the tiny toads, which are about the size of a dime, are crushed.
To give the toads a better chance at survival, the Whistler Fisheries Stewardship Group (WFSG) in partnership with the Resort Municipality of Whistler, built a toad underpass and installed wildlife fencing to guide the toads from the beach to the forest safely.
In the summer of 2013 an estimated 35,000 toads emerged from the lake. The WGSG estimates that 33,000 of these used the fencing and the toad underpass. This kept them away from the lawns and the beach trail.
In 2013 the project received assistance from the employees of the Fairmont Chateau Whistler Golf Course. The golf course is located adjacent to the park and the employees were able to collect observations of toads on the golf course. WFSG volunteers also collected toad observations around Lost Lake Park.
The ultimate goal of the WFSG is to find a permanent solution to protecting the tiny toads as they mirgrate across the heavily used areas of the park.
The Community Foundation of Whistler is proud to support this project with a grant from the Environmental Legacy Fund.