DEC and Volunteers Prepare for Annual Salamander and Frog Migration

Hudson Valley Volunteers to Assist Amphibians with Road Crossings during Annual Breeding Migrations

Community volunteers throughout the Hudson Valley are getting out their reflective vests, raingear, and clipboards in anticipation of annual breeding migrations of salamanders and frogs, which typically begin in mid-March, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today. The volunteers will document their observations as part of DEC’s Amphibian Migrations and Road Crossings Project.

“Amphibians contribute to a healthy, functioning ecosystem and during this time of year, road mortality can pose a significant threat to our frogs, toads, and salamanders,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “DEC is grateful to the hundreds of volunteer partners that venture out each year to help protect New York’s amphibians. I encourage all New Yorkers and visitors traveling the state’s roads to be on the lookout for amphibians and consider working with our committed community of volunteers helping these creatures to safely cross the road.”

After the ground has started to thaw in late winter and early spring, species such as spotted salamander and wood frog emerge from underground winter shelters in the forest and walk overland to woodland pools for breeding. In New York’s Hudson Valley, this migration usually occurs on rainy nights from mid-March to early April, when the night air temperature is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. When these conditions align just so, New York can experience explosive “big night” migrations, with hundreds of amphibians on the move, many having to cross roads.

Volunteers of the Amphibian Migrations and Road Crossings Project document Hudson Valley locations where migrations cross roads, record weather and traffic conditions, and identify and count the amphibians on the move. The volunteers also carefully help the amphibians to safely cross roads.

Now in its 11th year, more than 370 project volunteers have counted 20 species of amphibians and helped nearly 12,000 cross roads. Species reported most frequently during migration nights include spotted salamander, spring peeper, and wood frog. To a lesser degree, volunteers have also observed Jefferson-blue spotted salamander complex and four-toed salamander, species of greatest conservation need in New York, as well as more common species like American toad and redback salamander.

Drivers are encouraged to proceed with caution or avoid travel on the first warm, rainy evenings of the season. Amphibians come out after nightfall and are slow moving; mortality can be high even on low-traffic roads. Since the project started in 2009, volunteers have counted at least 5,700 migrating amphibians killed by passing vehicles. For more information, including a short video about amphibian migrations, visit DEC’s website or contact woodlandpool@dec.ny.gov.

Project volunteers are encouraged to use the hashtag #amphibianmigrationhv in their photos and posts on social media.

Volunteers of Amphibian Migrations using their headlamps to look at a salamader in the hand of a fellow volunteer
A brown salamander spotted with bright yellow spots all over its body in the hand of a volunteer
Volunteers of Amphibian Migrations and Road Crossings
and a Spotted Salamander