It’s that time of year again — the annual closure of King Road in Burlington starts Monday, March 18 to ensure the safe passage of the endangered Jefferson salamanders during its breeding migration period.
The roadway will be closed from the base of the Niagara Escarpment to Mountain Brow Road for about four weeks. Our city has shut down King Road every year since 2012 for the species of salamander, which is a nationally- and provincially-protected endangered species.
“The annual closure of King Road by the City of Burlington reinforces Conservation Halton’s promise to form partnerships, which enable us to better protected our natural environment, in this case, an endangered species. Our ecologists use monitoring data to recommend the timing and duration of the road closure to maximize its impact on the species while keeping disruption, due to the closure, down to a minimum. Our monitoring has shown a measurable positive impact on the Jefferson salamander population due to these once-a-year road closures. I would like to thank the city and community. Their efforts are helping in the recovery of this species.” — Hassaan Basit, Conservation Halton CAO
About the Jefferson Salamander
In Canada, the Jefferson salamander is found in Southern Ontario in select areas of deciduous forest, mostly along the Niagara Escarpment.
Jefferson salamanders spend the majority of their lives underground. As the weather warms up and the spring rains begin, the salamanders emerge and migrate to breed in temporary ponds formed by run-off, laying their eggs in clumps attached to underwater vegetation. Adults leave the ponds after breeding. By late summer, the larvae lose their gills, become air-breathing and leave the pond to head into the surrounding forests.
Adult salamanders migrate to their breeding ponds during wet rainy nights. They show a strong affinity for the pond in which they hatched and can be very determined to reach it, sometimes requiring them to cross busy roads.
- The Jefferson salamander is protected at both the provincial and national levels. It was added to Ontario’s endangered species list in 2011;
- Jefferson salamanders have a grey or brown-coloured back, with lighter under-parts. Blue flecks may be present on the sides and limbs;
- Adult Jefferson salamanders are between 12 to 20 centimetres long. The long tail makes up half this length;
- Unlike most small animals, Jefferson salamanders can live a very long time; up to 30 years.
Links and Resources
Together with Conservation Halton, the City of Burlington is very proud of its efforts to aid in the survival and recovery of this rare species. Since the first full road closure in 2012, there has been no road mortality of Jefferson salamanders observed by Conservation Halton staff during the road closure period. We are happy to play a small role in protecting the salamanders while raising awareness about their endangered status.