Herp Update: Safety, salamander crossings – March 27, 2021


in portions of the Lake Champlain Basin everything came together last night.  Kate Kelly and I were investigating some previously unvisited locations in Rutland County.  On our return we swung by two crossing sites near Fern Lake in Leicester and there were two cars of herpers at one site and one car at the other.  I have never seen anyone at either of these two crossing sites before.  Today I am hearing that at least 20 people were at the Morgan Road crossing in Salisbury and perhaps as many as 50 at North Street in New Haven.

I think part of the reason so many people were out is that one of the first big nights of spring landed on a Saturday and families could take the kids out on a non-school night.  Perhaps another reason is that we are still recovering from a pandemic and craving to get out of the house and do interesting things outdoors.  In addition though, I think we have reached a critical mass.  I think that many Vermonters have become aware of salamander migration and the word is spreading.  As a result of the efforts of the Herp Atlas, North Branch Nature Center,  Bonnevale Environmental Education Center, and others, spring amphibian migration is quickly becoming a popular event.  This is a great thing in that we have connected many new people to nature in a new way and hopefully created many new conservationists.

However, this also brings up some other concerns for both human and amphibian safety.  With this many people getting out on rainy nights on their own, we have to be self-regulating.  We need to be looking out for each other’s safety and the safety of the smaller amphibians.  At our organized events in Salisbury, we put out large reflective warning signs (danger slow), there are at most one or two passing cars per hour, and we greet and remind everyone of our safety rules.  That is not usually the case at most crossing sites, so please speak up and remind others to practice some basic safely precautions.

Human Safety

  • Always wear light and or reflective clothing so that you will be seen by traffic at night.
  • Everyone should have their own bright flashlight with new batteries.
  • No one should run
  • Never take kids on a busy road; take them to quiet back roads
  • Park your car as far of the road as possible in a safe and visible location

Amphibian Safety

Recent Sightings

I am currently way behind on the reports that came in from last night, but we added Four-toed Salamanders, Eastern Red-backed Salamanders, Pickerel Frogs, Northern Leopard Frogs and American Toads to our spring list.

Next Big Night

Conditions look good for amphibian migration again tomorrow (Sunday) night.  If you don’t know what species you are seeing, take a couple good photos and send them to us.  Check the list of needed reports on our website at:

Data Gaps: Reports and Photos Most Needed

and photograph and report species that help fill in our knowledge gaps.

If you see behaviors that put people or amphibians at risk please speak up!  Be friendly about it, but do it.

Happy Herping!


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