BURLINGTON, ON – March 7, 2022 – Spring is arriving and for the endangered Jefferson Salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum), that means breeding season. Conservation Halton, in partnership with the City of Burlington, has closed a section of King Road from the base of the Niagara Escarpment to Mountain Brow Road to ensure safe passage for Jefferson Salamanders as they emerge from hibernation and migrate to breeding pools.
“The decade-long partnership between Conservation Halton and the City of Burlington has resulted in the preservation of the Jefferson Salamander population. We are pleased to share that since the first King Road closure in 2012, we have observed no Jefferson Salamander road mortality in that area during the migration period,” said Hassaan Basit, President and CEO, Conservation Halton.
Jefferson Salamander was designated as an endangered species in Ontario in 2011. In Canada, they can only be found in southern Ontario, mostly along the Niagara Escarpment. In Burlington, King Road is closed as it is necessary for the salamanders to cross this section of the road when they migrate. Each year, Conservation Halton works with the City of Burlington on the timing of the closure to coincide with the emergence of the salamanders from hibernation and migration to breeding pools, based on temperature and other weather conditions, usually around mid-March until early April.
Jefferson Salamanders spend most of their lives underground in deciduous forests and begin to emerge as the weather warms up and the spring rain begins. Adult salamanders migrate during wet, rainy nights to their breeding ponds where they will lay their eggs. This species prefers to breed in the same pond where they hatched, and can be very determined to reach it, sometimes crossing King Road to do so. By late summer, the eggs will have hatched and the young salamanders will lose their gills and leave the pond to head into the surrounding forest.
This year, King Road is already closed at the top of the Niagara Escarpment for construction in the area. The barrier at the bottom of the Niagara Escarpment will remain in place for the duration of the salamander migration, until April 15.
“Over the many years of conservation efforts, the Jefferson salamander, ‘Jeffy,’ has become a beloved part of our community, and in a way, an unofficial mascot for our city. We’re happy our annual efforts around King Road have helped to safeguard the salamanders’ travels during its breeding migration. We’re not only helping to protect an endangered species, but also doing our part locally to ensure future generations flourish,” said Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward. “I’m also proud of our Burlington community for being willing every year to accommodate a short inconvenience to give a local endangered species a chance to thrive.”
Jefferson Salamander photos can be found here.
Conservation Halton is the community based environmental agency that protects, restores, and manages the natural resources in its watershed. The organization has staff that includes ecologists, land use planners, engineers, foresters and educators, along with a network of volunteers, who are guided by a Board of Directors comprised of municipally elected and appointed citizens. Conservation Halton is recognized for its stewardship of creeks, forests and Niagara Escarpment lands through science-based programs and services. Learn more at conservationhalton.ca.