About Vancouver Island Frogs
Being of a curious mind, I have always wondered why these fences were different on this stretch of highway. After questioning a couple of authorities in regards to these unusual fences it was concluded that they were frog fences and if you were to pay particular attention to the configuration of the smaller fences you will notice that at regular intervals these fences wrap around what looks like culverts that go underneath the highway, “froggy tunnels”.
So why would we need frog fences on the inland Island Highway? I was fortunate enough last summer to witness first hand the annual migration of the frogs and the spectacle was really something; I could not remove the smile off my face for quite a few days afterwards and I still smile when I think of it. Our group missed the adult migration but we did observe the baby frogs returning from the swamps to make their way back into the tree line. WOW.
The Annual Frog Migration Path
Every spring the adult tree frogs that live in the forest lands from the base of Mt. Washington all along the east side of the most easterly range of mountains, migrate up to 30 kilometres, to the swamps and peat bogs of the Macaulay Road and York Road highlands to lay their eggs. Millions of these 6 to 10 centimetre long green and brown frogs make up the exodus every season. The Inland Island Highway transects the migration path, hence the fences were erected to protect,the frogs from being run over and to prevent humans from car accidents due to the slick and slimy hazard thousands of squished frogs would create on the highway.
The implicit volume of frogs migrating is staggering to the mind, with the estimates in the millions. Our observation party included; two dogs, 7 kids and 6 adults, three cameras, a bunch of pairs of gum boots, a few catch buckets and a picnic blanket. We selected a spot that we might be able to just sit and relax with the kids, but it was difficult to lay the blanket down in the fear that we were sitting on the frogs. There were so many of them we had to take great care where we placed our feet, the ground was literally alive with movement.
We spent the better part of four hours with the kids that day, catching and releasing these babies and just watching them make their way through the grass into the forest, taking some really bad pictures (the frogs just don’t stay still) and generally enjoying this most unusual exhibition in Mother Nature’s Amphitheatre. The kids did take a small number of the baby’s home to study but we made a point of releasing them in local forests a few days later. This activity is highly recommended, particularly for the little ones, mid July is the best time to observe the babies with about a two week window.
It is also a great opportunity to learn and teach a little about the natural wonders that make up our island, as in all our excursions we insert an educational component to the day. In this case we brought along written descriptions for identifying the frogs, we measured them to determine age (that turned out to be very difficult) we drew the migration paths on maps and made a point of discussing habitat and protection issues with the kids. A great day was had by all. I think the Adults in the group actually had more fun than the kids. Vancouver Island’s Most Prominent Frog Species