• Nine men pose with gear at the Alaska-British Columbia border on the trail

    Klondike Gold Rush

    National Historical Park Alaska

Tracking Toads at Klondike Gold Rush

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Date: August 9, 2012
Contact: Cynthia Von Halle, 907-983-9206

Just like wolves in Yellowstone and grizzlies in Glacier National Park, this summer Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is outfitting boreal toads with radio transmitters that allow biologists to follow the movements of these elusive amphibians. Local and regional declines of boreal toad populations prompted the initiation of the Klondike Gold Rush NHP Amphibian Monitoring Program in 2004 by former Natural Resources Program Manager, Meg Hahr. Until the 2012 season, efforts focused mainly on monitoring breeding success and testing for diseases. Very little is known about where toads go after they leave their breeding ponds. Unlike frogs, toads spend a majority of their time out of water in upland habitat. 

Weighing less than 2 grams and attached by a specially designed plastic belt, each radio unit transmits a unique signal that can be located using radio telemetry. This radio tracking study will help researchers locate important habitat features such as hibernation sites, additional breeding ponds and migration corridors. Discovering where the toads spend the other 11 months of the year, away from the breeding ponds, is crucial in helping to conserve Skagway's small remaining boreal toad population. 

Because of their unique life cycle between water and land, amphibians are very sensitive to environmental changes and pollution. Even in remote Southeast Alaska, amphibian deformities, diseases and significant population declines are being experienced. By monitoring the health of amphibian populations, larger environmental problems can be detected.  

The public is encouraged to report amphibian observations to Jaime Welfelt at Jaime_welfelt@nps.gov or (907) 983-9240.                                                                   

Did You Know?

Chilkoot trailhead sign showing the National Park Service arrowhead logo and an outline of people with loads climbing up a steep, snowy pass

The Chilkoot Trail, in Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, is 33 miles long and is shared with our neighbor, Parks Canada. Hikers cross the border at the top of the pass and enter British Columbia. The trail is considered to be the world's longest outdoor museum.