By Molly Daly PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — After a long, harsh winter, here’s a sure sign of spring: toads are migrating in Upper Roxborough. The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education’s volunteer-tended Toad Detour is up to keep the amorous amphibians safe. In spring, an American Toad’s fancy turns to making little toads, and Toad Detour volunteer coordinator Claire Morgan says the land-dwelling amphibians need to return to water to reproduce.
“They’re just starting to make their trek to the Upper Roxborough Reservoir Preserve, where they will lay eggs, and then the adults will go back to the woods where they live,” Morgan says. But the reservoir’s across the road, and street smarts aren’t in the toads’ evolutionary skill set. “We put up a barricade on two ends of the street on Port Royal and Hagys Mill Road, which is adjacent to our property, and one on the other side, at Summit Avenue and Eva Street. We block off this short two-block area, and that protects them. And we were able to protect over a thousand toads last year from the cars,” Morgan says. The toads that cross within the barricades are allowed to walk they don’t leap like frogs at their own pace. Volunteers with headlamps, flashlights, and reflective vests give toads outside the detour zone a lift. The detour’s up between 7 and 9 at night, for about two weeks. “They move after dusk,” says Morgan, “and there could be a few stragglers after that, but the good thing about that is there’s less traffic after 9pm, too.” After ten days to two weeks, the eggs will hatch. “About 6 weeks later, these tiny toadlets will make their trek back to the woods,” Morgan explains, “and once again, we have to put up barricades to protect them from the cars.” You’re invited to pitch in. “We always are in need of volunteers. It’s a great family-friendly event. It’s great to have children out in nature. We even have scout groups that are signed up to help us. If people want to help, they can check our website schuylkillcenter.org, or our Facebook page, Toad Detour at the Schuylkill Center, and look for updates, and how you can come out and help. Help us count them, and help us move them.”
Morgan says that by protecting the toads, the community is amply repaid, since the amphibians devour pretty much any insect that’ll fit in their mouths.