Ontario man behind efforts to 'save the salamanders'
Salamanders not often seen in Ontario, but they are quite common, says Matt Ellerbeck
An Ottawa-area man says a small, insect-eating amphibian that's fairly common — but rarely seen — in the northwest deserves dedicated protection.
Matt Ellerbeck is behind the group Save the Salamanders, and says even though people often don't come across them, salamanders need help and more awareness if they are going to survive.
Salamanders are also prone to being hit by cars when they cross roadways to get to breeding sites.
Northern Ontario has a half-dozen salamander species, in addition to an aquatic form known as a newt.
"They hide quite a bit and when they are at the surface, they're under cover like rocks and leaf litter and logs," Ellerbeck told CBC Thunder Bay outdoor columnist Gord Ellis. "They don't ... just lay out in the open or wander about."
'Salamanders are our friends'
Ensuring salamander populations thrive has its benefits to people too, Ellerbeck said.
Aside from large-scale efforts that can support salamander populations, like keeping pollution levels low, Ellerbeck said people can do simple things to help.
"If [you] find salamanders, please don't handle them too much because amphibians have sensitive skin," he said, adding that any chemicals that may be on your hands, like bug spray or sunscreen, can kill them.
Disturbing things in the wilderness like rocks and deadfall also rob salamanders of places to hide from predators and inclement weather, Ellerbeck said.