Tadpoles, frogs, and toads, oh my! This week I had the chance to venture out with the resource stewardship's wildlife team to help with a boreal toad count. These toads, among a number of other amphibians, are threatened by the amphibian chytrid fungus called batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (try saying that five times fast!). When infected with the fungus, the amphibians' skin changes and they are rendered unable to absorb needed water and nutrients. In an effort to combat this widespread toad killer, the park has reintroduced a total of 34,000 hatchery-reared boreal toad tadpoles over the past seven years. Each year, members of the wildlife crew monitor how many toads survive through the various stages of life: from tadpole to toadlets (newly metamorphosed toads), sub-adults, and eventually adult toads.
I met with two biological technicians, Joe and Molly, and one volunteer, Fred, at headquarters in the morning, where we loaded up the necessary equipment, and headed up and off the Red Mountain Trail to our first site. To ensure that we did not cause the fungus to spread across sites, prior to hiking in, we sprayed our boots with a bleach mixture, and upon arrival at the pond we changed into booties that have only been, and will only be, used in that area. Throughout the day, we wore disposable gloves, and changed into a new pair each time an amphibian was handled.