The state Department of Environmental Conservation is asking drivers to keep an eye out for frogs and salamanders hopping and slithering across the roadways to avoid squishing them as they make an early arrival due to the unseasonably warm and rainy weather.
To help protect the little guys as they cross the road, and to get an idea of how many amphibians are out for this year's breeding season, volunteers from the Hudson Valley will be out with rain gear and clipboards along the roadways, DEC officials said.
“As the State’s Wildlife Action Plan identifies road mortality as a significant threat to frogs, toads, and salamanders, I encourage all New Yorkers and visitors traveling through our state to keep an eye out for amphibians, and our committed community of volunteers helping them cross the road,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos
The amphibians usually emerge from their underground winter shelters after the ground has started to thaw in late winter and early spring. Species such as the spotted salamander and wood frog walk overland to woodland pools for breeding, DEC officials added.
In New York, this migration usually occurs on rainy nights in late March and early April, when the night air temperature is above 40 degrees. When these conditions align just so, there can be explosive ("big night") migrations, with hundreds of amphibians on the move, many having to cross roads.
"New York hosts an incredible array of amphibians and an even more amazing volunteer network that helps ensure their survival each spring," said Seggos.
The volunteers, part of the Amphibian Migrations and Road Crossings Project, document Hudson Valley locations where migrations cross roads, record weather, and traffic conditions, and identify and count the salamanders, frogs, and toads on the move.
They also carefully help the amphibians to safely cross roads.
Now in its ninth year, more than 300 project volunteers have assisted more than 8,500 amphibians cross New York roads.
Drivers on New York roads are encouraged to proceed with caution as the amphibians come out after nightfall and are slow moving; mortality can be high even on low-traffic roads.