The most recent Guelph Field Naturalists meeting featured Joe Crowley from Ontario Nature speaking about the Herpetofaunal Atlas program. They are trying to map the reptiles and amphibians in the province.
An astounding 18 out of the 24 species of reptiles (that’s 75%) in the Province are considered at risk through the Ontario Endangered Species Act. He also spoke about amphibians but I can’t find any literature on line about how many of them are endangered… although I am certain some salamanders and frogs among the 24 species (also) must be.
Joe’s slide show was excellent and included a map showing the wilderness areas favoured by the herptiles in Ontario. Not surprisingly most of the habitat was in the south-western corner or triangle of the province. Then he showed a map showing the roads in black for the same geographical area. Although I shouldn’t have been, it still surprised me how incredibly much those roads dissect the breeding areas. Reptiles and Amphibians are forced unto roads because of this but are also naturally attracted by the flatness and warmth that a road means to their senses. In fact our vehicles are, according to Crowley, an even greater source of mortality than loss of habitat. That is a sobering thought.
Roadways are not only a way for us to pollute and waste our meagre store of fossil fuels using our cars and trucks, they’re also killing fields for reptiles, amphibians among other animals. It reminds me of Margaret Atwood‘s poem The Animals in That Country.
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