Toad Crossing

This has nothing to do with art, or central New Jersey, but it’s too cool– and too important! — to not draw attention to!

The Philadelphia Streets Department just issued a permit to close Eva Street and part of Port Royal for the annual toad migration in Upper Roxborough. The streets will be closed during the main migration, one spring evening when the weather conditions are warm and wet. Exactly when will this occur? No one knows. It’s up to the toads! Volunteer “toad spotters” will alert the authorities once the migration begins.

Each spring, between mid-March and late-April, hundreds of toads migrate from the forest at the Schuylkill Center For Environmental Education across Hagy’s Mill and Port Royal roads. They also migrate from the surrounding woods across Eva Street. These toads are headed towards the Roxborough Reservoir to mate.

Their journey is a dangerous one, since they cross at night and must evade oncoming traffic. Hundreds of commuters who seek to avoid lights on Ridge Avenue travel these roads daily. For the past three years, the toad population has steadily declined due to traffic fatalities. Witnesses report 50% fewer toads migrating each year. On the main migration night in 2008, 100 dead toads were counted on the road while only 25 were observed crossing the road over a two-hour period.

With community help, toads can safely cross the road again. Toads are very important members of the food chain in our area. The entire ecosystem depends on their survival.

The DETOUR Project is an effort to protect toads as they migrate to and from their breeding ground each year and to raise public awareness about the migration. The DETOUR Committee will initiate new policies improving migration safety for local toads, such as temporary road detours on evenings of heavy migration, and educate the public about migration safety. Community volunteers will alert local officials about the start and end of the migration. Signs will detour oncoming traffic towards alternate routes during the migration. Students from Green Woods Charter School made signs and barricades to block the roads and alert commuters about the migration.

How to Get Involved: If you are concerned about toads, please help protect them during their annual migration by joining the DETOUR Committee. Volunteers are needed to place barricades and signs, distribute Toad Migration leaflets to commuters, count migrating toads, and help toads safely cross the road. We will add you to our phone/email tree to be “on call” during the migration. You can sign up as a Committee Member or Community Volunteer by contacting DETOUR Coordinator, Lisa Levinson: 215-620-2130, lisa@publiceyephilly.org

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2 Responses to Toad Crossing

  1. Ilene, what a wonderful story. The caring about toads in this hectic world is really heart-warming.

  2. Ilene Dube says:

    Thanks to the dedication of 100 volunteers, over 600 toads were granted safe passage during their annual migration from the woods to their mating ground at the Roxborough Reservoir. The process took a coordinated effort between toad spotters, toad counters, barricade volunteers, parking escorts, and toad crossing guards. Nightly toad spotters watched for toads and started the phone tree at first sight of hopping toads. The phone tree activated text and email messages to alert other volunteers that “Toads are on the move!”

    Over 200 toads crossed in just two hours, according to reports from toad counters. For the next couple weeks, the toads will mate in the Roxborough Reservoir. Approximately five weeks later, miniature toadlets will begin their journey back to the surrounding woods.

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