Burlington road closing for salamander crossing

From March 15 to April 6, The City of Burlington will close King Road from the base of the Niagara Escarpment to Mountain Brow Road to allow the slippery Jefferson Salamander a chance to migrate safely.

Section of King Road in Burlington closed March 15 to April 6

The Jefferson Salamander is a nationally and provincially protected endangered species. Its range extends across parts of northeastern United States. In Canada, the amphibian can be found in Southern Ontario, mainly along the Niagara Escarpment. They feed primarily on insects and worms. (Conservation Halton)

The Jefferson Salamander is an endangered species and every year, the City of Burlington gives it right of passage to cross King Road.

From March 15 to April 6, The City of Burlington will close King Road from the base of the Niagara Escarpment to Mountain Brow Road to allow the slippery, slithery amphibian a chance to migrate safely. The city has been doing this since 2012.

Working closely with Conservation Halton, the city is committed to doing what it can to assist in the protection and recovery of this endangered species.- Mayor Rick Goldring, City of Burlington

"The Jefferson Salamander is a valuable part of the ecosystem in Burlington," said Mayor Rick Goldring. "Working closely with Conservation Halton, the city is committed to doing what it can to assist in the protection and recovery of this endangered species."

Whether or not the closure is helping to rebuild the salamander population is uncertain.

'Incredibly difficult to find'

"We don't have an exact baseline number of how many were there in the first place," said Lesley Matich, senior terrestrial planning ecologist at Conservation Halton. "They are incredibly difficult to find, therefore tracking them isn't effective."

The creature is a nationally and provincially protected species. Living in the wild it spends most of its life underground in moist, loose soil, under logs or leaves. In spring, they travel to woodland ponds to breed, laying eggs in clumps attached to underwater vegetation.

Spring is a particularly sensitive time for the amphibian. Matich says a "voluntary" road closure in 2011 was unsuccessful but in 2012, following the full closure, no reports of any roadkill were reported.

"Conservation Halton has a long term environmental monitoring program," said Matich. But it doesn't focus specifically on Jefferson Salamanders in the area as part of it.

Locals given advance warning

"It looks at the health of our watershed in general, one component of that is salamander monitoring … we do monitor a variety of different components of the forest health and wildlife in the area."

Some Jefferson Salamander facts:

  • It's an amphibian that can live up to 30 years
  • They are grey with blue-grey flecks on the sides of the body and limbs
  • Adults are between 12 to 20 centimetres long, their tails are half the size
  • They eat primarily insects and worms
  • They return to the same pond they hatched from to breed

Good luck finding them though. They move fast, especially when they're scared.

King Road is one roadway connecting Burlington and Hamilton. Local traffic is given advance warning of the closure and according to Traffic Services, the change is supported by the local community.


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