Toads around Town

When I was growing up during the early and mid-80s, I remember finding toads from time to time. They were commonly found at the upper end of Swan Lake (by where there was a playground at the far side of the Moller park track), also in muskegs, and sometimes even just squished on the road. There was one memorable experience I recall of a family outing to Heart Lake when we found bunches of very small toads all over. At the time I didn’t know what was going on, but now I realize it was probably the day they were leaving the lake, having transformed fully out of the tadpole stage of life.

By the time I reached my teen years, I don’t remember running into toads so much. Perhaps I stopped paying as much attention, but even if they were around then in similar numbers, it was not long before they largely disappeared from the road system. After finishing up my time at school and returning to live full-time, I heard many stories of people remembering all the toads that used to be around town, but had not been seen in a while. Locations that featured prominently in these stories included Swan Lake and Thimbleberry Lake. I talked to people who spent time at remote sites (Salmon Lake, Lake Suloia, and South Baranof Hatcheries, for example), and heard that toads were still common at those locations. Over the years, I heard about maybe a handful reports of toads seen around town of single toads. (I just learned yesterday, that someone in my neighborhood had a toad in her yard for 3 years in a row during this time period.) The only toads I saw prior to last year were one on Kruzof Island back in 2006, and a handful of others at remote locations up at West Chichagof or down on South Baranof Island.

Last year Rowan found a couple of toads along Thimbleberry Lake, which was a bit of a surprise to me. This year she found 4 or 5 again in the same location, so I was not entirely surprised when I heard this week that someone had been hiking along the trail and seen a good number (50+) of small toads along the trail (it sounded like near where Rowan had found the larger toads). The day after they had been found (and the same day I heard about it) Connor, Rowan, and I went up to look. We didn’t find such large numbers, but Rowan found 4 or 5, and Connor found another 1 or 2, so that was exciting. I later heard from someone else who was curious about them after seeing a half dozen or more along the trail during a walk.

I echo the sentiments of the person who commented to me that it’s been years since there were (m?)any toads around town, so it’s good if they are coming back.

Questions:

  • Where (and when) have you seen toads over the years?
  • What caused the decline of toads along the road system?
  • Has there been a small persistent population along the road system, or are the ones we’ve been seeing lately coming from toads that moved back into the area from places nearby where they did not die off?
  • Has anyone started seeing more toads in other locations around town?

About matt goff

I am an aspiring naturalist who seeks to learn all that I can about the more-than-human aspects of this place that is my home.
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3 Responses to Toads around Town

  1. Heather Riggs says:

    We have had two toads this summer on our driveway. I’m assuming they came from the woods behind our house. We do not live near any lakes though. There is a small creek behind our house and then forest and a muskeg after that. I live up Mary’s Court and it is a dead end road.

  2. matt goff says:

    Thanks Heather – I’m not sure how far toads disperse, no how large of a pond (or other water source) they need to have for laying eggs and successfully maturing. Have you seen toads there before this year?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Yes, Matt, two years in a row. Only on rainy nights. These are full grown, and are coming out of our forest.

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