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The secretive world of reptiles and amphibians poised to come to life

Bracebridge Examiner,
April 25 2016

MUSKOKA – It’s spring in Muskoka, and with it comes warmer weather, a few damp roads and fast rivers – along with some other welcomed guests.

On a leisurely shoreline stroll you may spot a midland painted turtle or a yellow-chinned Blanding’s turtle. If you turn over a log, you may find a milksnake or a blue-spotted salamander.

The awakening of reptiles and amphibians is happening right at our feet.

“Spring is one of my favorite times of year and is distinctively marked by the unique calls of different species of frogs and toads. The early season calls of wood and chorus frogs as well as spring peepers bring the night alive with sound,” said Emma Horrigan, Ontario Nature’s citizen science co-ordinator.

Reptiles and amphibians are experiencing global declines of 20 and 40 percent respectively. In Ontario, 75 per cent of reptiles and 22 per cent of amphibians are listed as at-risk provincially.

These turtles, snakes, lizards, salamanders, frogs and toads suffer from habitat loss and fragmentation, road mortality, persecution and pollution.

  •  Reptiles are experiencing global declines of 20 per cent;
  •  There are 24 species of reptiles are found in Ontario, including 15 snakes, eight turtles, and one lizard;
  •  There are 18 of Ontario’s 24 species of reptile (75 per cent) are listed as at risk under the Ontario Endangered Species Act.
  •  Amphibians are experiencing global declines of 40 per cent
  •  There are 23 species of amphibians are found in Ontario, including 10 frogs, two toads and 11 salamanders
  •  Five of Ontario’s 23 species of amphibian (22 per cent) are listed as at risk under the Ontario Endangered Species Act

Muskoka residents can help stop this alarming trend by enlisting as a citizen scientist for the Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas, which has been led by Ontario Nature since 2009. The data submitted by people of all skill levels is used to map the whereabouts of some of the province’s most enigmatic creatures. The goal is to increase the collective knowledge base of reptiles and amphibians. Equally important, however, is the engagement of non-scientists of all ages and abilities, in all parts of the province, in nature study and conservation.

Ontario Nature’s spring is to fill in key data gaps where there are no recent sightings. Ontario Nature is a charitable organization representing more than 30,000 members and supporters, and 150 member groups across Ontario.

For more information, visit ontarionature.org or call 1-800-440-2366.