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King Salamander


Brenda Van Ryswyk, Conservation Halton

Save lusty salamanders - avoid King Road

, The Hamilton Spectator
BURLINGTON (Mar 27, 2010)

They're lovers in a dangerous time.

It's the weekend of free love ... Jefferson salamander style.

Hundreds of the little amphibians with love on their tiny brains will brave a crossing of King Road this weekend. Those lucky enough to avoid having their libidinous lust crushed under vehicles tonight and tomorrow night will find paradise - or at least a chance to mate in a romantic roadside seasonal pond.

Burlington features one of the 27 populations of this threatened species in Canada. And every year since the dawn of time, the salamanders, who live on the forest floor, make their breeding trek.

Conservation Halton spokesperson Hassaan Basit said the Burlington population possibly ranges in the mid hundreds. The salamanders wait for the first warmth of March, followed by rain, to make their mating trek.

The salamander mating began last weekend. But this weekend - watch out. The salamander love-making cologne will be out in force.

"We expect that this weekend may be a big event, because there is a forecast for rain and really warm temperatures," he said.

After a night or two of lovemaking and egg-laying, the adults return.

"Why does the salamander cross the road? There is a very clear answer in this case. To lay their eggs and go back home," Basit said.

The eggs will hatch and the young salamanders will cross the road again this summer to join the adults on the forest floor.

Basit said Conservation Halton is hoping in future to have the portion of King Road between the 403 and Mountainbrow Road closed for one or two nights.

City officials had to abandon the road closure plan this spring because there was not enough time to organize a temporary closure.

That means there will be carnage in the pursuit of love. Basit said that is unfortunate, especially given the low numbers.

The salamanders are about five inches long. Two arms and two legs. They are brown with blue spots. They are very shy and elusive. They're just in the mood for love.

Basit said a temporary road closure next spring will make a very positive difference.

In the meantime, Basit hopes Burlingtonians will try to avoid driving on King Road in the evening this weekend.

Save gas - help save a species.

kpeters@thespec.com

905 526-3388

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