Citizen scientists needed to identify vernal pool crossings

Above: One of the lucky ones (photo by Frederica Gillespie)

Southborough resident Frederica Gillespie says it’s not a pretty sight. Visit the roadways that border vernal pools in Southborough this time of year and what you’ll see is carnage – the remnants of frogs and salamanders crushed by passing cars.

Vernal pools — temporary pools of water that dot the Southborough landscape particularly in spring — are home to a number of species, including frogs, salamanders, and turtles. In the overnight hours the critters venture out and often attempt to cross roadways. It’s not always a successful journey.

Gillespie says the worst vernal pool kill zones in Southborough are along Woodland, Oregon, and Valley Roads, but most residents don’t witness the carnage because the crows clean it up before morning arrives.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, and the Vernal Pool Association have joined forces in an effort to minimize the impact of the existing road network on wildlife. Last year they began collecting data as part of the Turtle Roadway Mortality Monitoring Program. This year they’re looking for more citizen scientists to join the cause.

A training session for volunteers interested in collecting turtle mortality data will be held in Westborough on Tuesday, March 29 from 7:00 to 9:00 pm at the Karl Weiss Educational Conference Building located on North Drive in Westborough. The session is free, but pre-registration is required. If you’re interested, contact Dave Paulson with the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at

You can find more information on the Linking Landscapes for Massachusetts Wildlife website (

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AD Miller
13 years ago

As a resident of Oregon Rd., and one whose house is surrounded by some of the wetlands noted above, I can’t stress enough how important it is to drive slow and look while you are driving, especially on our road at night. Little frogs (like the wood frog above) have a hard enough time surviving with their habitat being taken for more houses. We will soon be reaching peak movement for these little creatures, so please be aware of your surroundings (especially on Oregon Rd., since I am often out after dark with a flashlight saving what I can!!). We found the first woodfrogs moving last Thursday night when the warmth was here and the first peepers started singing last Friday. Spring is on the way!!!


Frederica Gillespie
13 years ago

Andrew, Thank you for the work you do trying to help. I had sent Susan some of the pictures I took of the mangled carnage of salamanders and frogs on the roads but they are just too gruesome to post. I am hoping to find a school group or Scout troop, anyone interested in setting up a Vernal Pool Crossing like many other towns have. If anyone is interested in setting up a project like this, they can contact me through Susan.
Southborough residents can help by avoiding Oregon Road on rainy nights. That’s the worst kill zone I’ve found in town, although there are many others. In general people should try to stay off roads along wetlands and woodlands on rainy nights.
Trying to avoid the frogs and salamanders while driving is better than doing nothing, but on a rainy, foggy night they’re almost impossible to see against the dark pavement.

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