Newt X-ing Project

Newt X-ing Project – Take Action during the rainy months!

Yes, there are newts on the island and yes, they are adorable. During mating season (spring and early summer) rough-skinned newts spend their lives in and near wetlands/shallow aquatic areas. As they mature, many will make their way to the forests to live and hibernate underground/under logs.

When they are migrating between the wetlands and forests, newts have to frequently cross the roads to travel between their seasonal habitat sites. This means newts get hit by vehicles and killed in large numbers. Huge contributors to the decline of newt populations are both loss of habitat and road fatalities.

The Newt X-ING Action Project is to remind people when newt crossing season happens on Cortes Island, and when to look out for them on the roads. So, if you’re driving or biking on the roads during the mild and wet months (fall and spring), drive carefully and keep your eyes on the road for these little creatures – they look much like leaves on the road. Avoid them as best as you can. There are yellow and black NEWT X-ING signs in the major corridors. The more we notice, the more likely they are to get to their habitats safe and sound!

Below is a map showing where the island’s wetlands are found next to roads, and where the newts are likely to be crossing in large numbers. Although these designated areas are hot spots for large migrations of newts, rough-skinned newts can be seen crossing the roads at any location around the island.

Encouraging newts to cross the road is helpful, but handling them can introduce them to disease as they have very permeable skin. So, if you choose to help newts, please use clean gloves to handle them, and keep the gloves from any other use. 

These little creatures play a big role in the health of freshwater and woodland ecosystems. They help cycle nutrients between the water and the land; building soil fertility. Rough-skinned newts are very poisonous except to their only predator, garter snakes, and they themselves are predators to insect larvae, balancing mosquito and other small biting insect populations.

Above all, newts indicate the health of an ecosystem.

To learn more about rough-skinned newts, check out these resources:
Hollyhock Naturalist Blog, Bill Ophoff
Rough-skinned Newts Cortes Island Museum Blog, Christian Gronau
Canadian Herpetological Society
Biology of Newts
Fun Newt Facts

Cortes Island Wetland Areas – Newt X-ings

Photo credit: Steve Musial

Photo credit: Robin Loznak Photography