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Road toads

April 28, 2011

Amphibians of all varieties make a habit of migrating across the road where I live, prompting my annual pilgrimages to the ribbon of pavement that runs in front of my home. The journeys begin after nightfall on rainy evenings, necessitating the donning of headlamp and reflective clothing for me.

I search for salamanders, frogs and toads, depending on the time of year. When I come upon a creature that has not yet fallen victim to a vehicle, I gently relocate it to safety.

More than three weeks ago, at a time when I typically encounter earlier migrators such as salamanders and spring peepers, one warmish night foray revealed an abundance of American toads.

During the decade I’ve spent observing the migration along my road, I haven’t seen such an early appearance of toads. I’m unable to say whether climate change has anything to do with this, but it’s wise to be alert to such possibilities.

One way to gain a broader awareness of the potential impacts of climate change is a new series launched by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, titled “The Climate of Conservation in America: 50 Stories in 50 States.” The series launched on Earth Day, April 22, and will continue for 50 consecutive weekdays exploring how climate change is or may be impacting fish and wildlife across America.

The stories also highlight science-based solutions and collaborative actions that are making a difference for wild things and wild places. Visit to read them and to share your thoughts.