Migration

The toadlet migration occurs in the summer months of July and August and usually lasts about two weeks. During the migration period, we ask people to use the voluntary detour to help ensure the survival of the population of toads. Information signage is posted on trailheads and exits during the migration period. The western toadlets move from aquatic habitats into the forest mainly around the fringes of Allen Lake and often with concentrations around the Trestle trail. The movement of toadlets is from 400m up to 1,600 m from the waters. Distances of 900 meters with up to 95 meters change in elevation are common for adults with up to 4 kilometers of travel recorded. Toadlet movement patterns are mostly on mass and often occur during the cooler mornings and evenings. Seeing carpets of toadlets during the migration is not uncommon and it’s best to avoid affected trails and seek alternative routes during this time. For adult toads, movement patterns are highly variable, with some individuals remaining in the same location for several days, then moving 50 meters or more usually overnights.

(See map & alternative route notes below)

Western Toad migration heat map on the Cumberland Trails

Trails to avoid during migration weeks.

  1. All trails surrounding Allen Lake
  • That dam trail, Bottom Vanilla, Lower Teapot, Trestle, Railroad, Swamp Monster, Short and Curlies extending to Hai Gai.
  1. Trails to be aware of Migration
  • Broadway, Off Broadway, Crafty Butcher, Broncos Perseverance.
  1. How to avoid Trestle from Blue Collar.
  • Take TLC, Amore, Amore Connector (cross Double Pumper), Double track to connect with Middle Crafty Butcher.
  1. No Toad sightings have been observed in these areas.
  1. Gravity Zone, Black Diamond zone, XC zone and Eastern block.  

Western Toad information

Range/Distribution

Coastal rainforest, British Columbia and Alberta, Southeast Alaska, Washington, North Central California, Sierra Nevada, Montana, Colorado, and New Mexico.

What is their conservation status?

Western toads are listed as a Yellow species. Yellow are species that are apparently secure but that have either a restricted distribution or perceived future threats. In B.C., species and ecological communities are assigned to one of three lists, based on their provincial Conservation Status Rank. Red-listed species and ecological communities are Extirpated, Endangered, or Threatened in British Columbia. Blue-listed species and ecological communities are of Special Concern (formerly Vulnerable) and Yellow-listed species and ecological communities are secure.

How do they reproduce?

Western toads’ breeding season takes place between March and May but can be extended until July. During breeding seasons these toads prefer shallow water wetlands with high pH levels in the water in which to lay eggs. Eggs are laid and can contain up to 16500 eggs per clutch and often in two strands which they attach to vegetation in the water, usually near the shore. Once laid, the warmth of shallow waters acts like a positive catalyst and speeds up the development of the eggs. The eggs quickly develop into tadpoles that hatch and swarm in groups of hundreds or thousands of individuals through the warmest, shallowest water available. The tadpoles transform into toadlets and leave the water. Dense aggregations of toadlets are often found hidden along the shore of breeding sites and start their migration. Usually clustered in mass they move when the weather turns cool and mostly at night, in the mornings and evening. Not usually during the height of the day. 99% of these toadlets won’t survive to reach adulthood which is usually after 2 – 3 years of living. 

After spring breeding, Western Toads spend the summer and fall foraging in warm, low-lying areas. They are primarily nocturnal but are active during the day at higher elevations and latitudes. As the weather gets cold in fall and winter, Western Toads retreat into hibernation to await spring. 

Predators

Tadpoles: Fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, mammals.
Adults: Ravens and other birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals.

Hibernation

Western toads may spend up to six months of the year in hibernation during cold months. Usually in natural chambers or burrows in the forested cover below the frost line. These are usually located adjacent to streams with constantly flowing water which helps maintain above freezing temperatures.

Are they dangerous?

These toads are non-aggressive amphibians and have never attacked a human first, in their life history. However, adult western toads may discharge a whitish toxin, which is mildly poisonous. They emit this from their warts and parotid glands. This poison is not enough to kill humans, but it does have psychoactive properties. This poison can be fatal to your dog.