The great toad migration has started for 2018.And beginning today, Aug.1, the Lost Lake Park beach and surrounding lawn areas are closed until further notice, due to high volumes of toadlets moving through this area.
Other changes include:
•The Lost Lake Park access road and parking lot have been closed to all vehicle traffic. Visitors are encouraged to walk or bike into Lost Lake Park to view the migration, and learn more about Western Toads from onsite naturalists.
•The Whistler Transit Lost Lake shuttle will not be running until the beach area re-opens.
•Food trucks scheduled for Lost Lake Park have been cancelled until further notice. Food trucks services are available at Lakeside Park and Rainbow Park.
•The Lost Lake Loop trail, dog beach and docks remain open and can be accessed via the Lost Lake Park access road.
Visitors to Lost Lake Park are asked to step carefully and walk bicycles into the park, as toadlets are no bigger than the size of a dime and can be easily crushed under foot.
It's a case of look and don't touch these tiny toadlets as they undertake their annual odyssey.
"It's important for people not to touch the tadpoles or toadlets, which are easily damaged by salts, oils, soaps and sunscreen found on our hands," warned Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden in a release.
"I encourage everyone to respect signage installed in areas where some toadlets have moved outside of the migration corridor fencing.
"There are volunteers on site equipped with plastic cups and gloves to help scoop up these toadlets and move them back to safety behind the fencing."
Over the next few weeks tens of thousands of tiny Great Western toadlets will make their way from the shores of Lost Lake to the surrounding forests.
Western Toads are a species of special concern and are vulnerable to changes in their environment. For several years now the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) has put in place protective measures for the species at Lost Lake.
This includes black plastic fencing, and even a trail underpass for the toadlets, designed to act as a migration corridor to safely guide them out of the lake to the forest. The fence also creates a shaded area for the toadlets, as they move along the inside of the fence-important in this scorching weather.
There are now thousands of toadlets piling up behind the fencing.
"Park visitors find the great Western Toad migration fascinating, and we are lucky to be able to showcase such a natural phenomenon in one of Whistler's most popular parks," said Wilhelm-Morden.
"The Western Toads are an important part of the Lost Lake ecosystem and our biomonitoring program."
The biomonitoring program focuses on indicator species, which can be studied to provide insight on the greater health of the ecosystem. Lost Lake's Western Toad population has been monitored as part of this study for the past 11 years.
Once the toadlets emerge from Lost Lake, RMOW environmental technicians monitor them daily. Often the toadlets stay in the wetland area for some time before migrating. The migration can be affected by weather conditions-in the past cooler, wetter conditions have instigated the trek.
Eight years ago the RMOW began installing permanent and temporary measures at Lost Lake Park to help protect this population. Protection measures are largely focused on tadpole and toadlet life stages, during which the population is most vulnerable.
Last year a record of 41 breeding Western Toad pairs were observed in Lost Lake. Each female can lay up to 50,000 eggs resulting in the emergence of hundreds of thousands of tadpoles, which quickly group together forming large black clouds along the shoreline of Lost Lake.
By July and August tadpoles have metamorphosed into tiny toadlets and are ready for the great migration from lake to forest. This migration can often appear as a moving carpet, as tens of thousands of dime-sized toadlets make their way across Lost Lake Park.
At this time, there are no temporary closures in effect, as the toads have not made it to the Beach Cut Trail parallel to the beach. Areas such as the park access road, parking lot, event lawn and portions of the Valley Trail may be subject to temporary closures, if high volumes of toadlets begin passing through.
The food trucks scheduled for Lost Lake Park may also have to be temporarily relocated and the BC Transit route to the parking lot altered
For more on the migration go to whistler.ca/toads.