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Cape Cod National Seashore to Continue Traffic Detours on Province Lands Road to Protect Spadefoot Toads

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Date: April 15, 2009
Contact: Robert Cook, Wildlife Ecologist, 508-487-3262 ext. 106

The staff of Cape Cod National Seashore announce that they will continue to occasionally detour traffic on Province Lands Road to protect spadefoot toads.  The detour, which may be implemented from late April through October, on very rainy nights, is intended to help protect the eastern spadefoot toad. The spadefoot toad, which is listed as “Threatened” by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, uses shallow temporary ponds in the Province Lands for breeding and the surrounding uplands to feed.  They migrate to and from these ponds on very rainy nights, when temperatures are usually at least 48 degrees.  Unfortunately many are killed on roads.  While spadefoot toads are not rare in the Province Lands, this is one of their last strongholds in New England.  Heavy mortality from vehicles, over the long term, could cause this population to decline.  

Province Lands Road has been found to be a popular crossing for many toads, and this spells trouble for them. To lessen vehicle impacts on the toads, the park will occasionally close Province Lands Road from just past (north of) the entrance to Herring Cove Beach to the intersection with Race Point Road.  These closures will only occur at night, during or immediately after heavy rain, and will be infrequent.  Herring Cove Beach will remain accessible from Route 6 and Race Point Road will be unaffected, allowing continued access to Race Point Beach, Provincetown Airport, Point Ranger Station, and the oversand corridor. Said Superintendent George Price, “The spadefoot toad migration is one of the many increasingly rare natural phenomena still to be found in the National Seashore.  We’re pleased that we’ve found a way to allow spadefoot toads to survive the trip to and from their breeding ponds, while still maintaining visitor access to Herring Cove and the Race Point area.”  The detours will be managed by signs and traffic control devices.  Please drive slowly, to protect your own safety as well as park wildlife. 


Did You Know?

Herring River dike, Wellfleet

Cape Cod National Seashore includes over 2500 acres of historically diked salt marshes, 35% of the Massachusetts total, and including some of the biggest diked marshes in the Gulf of Maine. Work continues, in cooperation with other agencies and private groups, to restore these degraded estuaries.