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Sorry, speedy bicyclists. Too dangerous, commuters seeking to sneak round dangerous site visitors on I-80. Robust luck, park guests. South Park Drive in Tilden Regional Park is closed to all motor automobiles via March 31.
The explanation? Newts. A lot of newts.
The highway closure is an annual precaution to guard the migrating and breeding newts making their approach from the summer time habitat to ponds and creeks within the park. As soon as they arrive, it’s newt like to the max.
Bicycles are allowed, though riders are requested to go slowly to keep away from newts crossing the highway. Whereas canines could also be off-leash on South Park Drive through the closure, they should be underneath voice management, and their homeowners should carry a leash and use it when vital.
Newts excrete a neurotoxin that may be deadly, so park rangers urge canine homeowners to maintain a detailed eye on their animals. People must keep away from touching the newts, too.
For the non-newtons within the crowd, the East Bay Regional Park District explains that California newts are a local species of salamander. They measure 5 to six inches lengthy, and through the dry season they keep in sheltered upland places, in deserted rodent holes, underneath rocks and logs and wherever there’s moisture.
When winter approaches, the newts depart their houses, biologically pushed to return to the locations the place they have been spawned, to mate and produce a brand new era of newts.
“They reply to the moisture degree within the air,” parks naturalist Trent Pearce defined. “They arrive out after the rains, and even after heavy fog.”
Officers mentioned that East Bay Regional Park District is dedicated to creating park lands accessible to Bay Space residents and company, however additionally they defend delicate species within the city panorama. For the previous 20 years, the district, working with UC Berkeley researchers, have shut down the highway to assist out the newts.
These visiting the park can use Grizzly Peak Boulevard, Wildcat Canyon Highway and Central Park Drive to maneuver to favourite park areas.
Newts are usually not an formally threatened species, however their inhabitants has decreased prior to now few a long time, largely due to habitat loss. Preserving the Tilden inhabitants helps preserve the newt numbers.
Wish to know extra about newts? Right here’s a Q & A with naturalist Pearce:
Q: How far do these newts journey?
A: Research have proven some newts are capable of return to their residence stream from distances of as much as 2.5 miles, though shorter migrations are extra widespread. Right here in Tilden, many newts cross South Park Drive on their solution to Wildcat Creek. Some additionally cross Wildcat Canyon Highway on their solution to the Regional Parks Botanic Backyard, the Tilden Golf Course, and different swimming pools of water.
Q: What adjustments do the newts undergo within the breeding season?
A: Male newts change extra dramatically than females. As soon as within the water, males swell and grow to be bulkier, their tails grow to be flattened for swimming, they usually develop nuptial pads on their toes for gripping females. Females could develop a barely flattened tail.
Q: What do the newts seem like once they hatch from their eggs?
A: When newly hatched, larval newts look much like a frog tadpole, however are striped and have exterior gills. As they develop, 4 legs slowly emerge. As summer time progresses, they metamorphose right into a terrestrial juvenile (a tiny model of the grownup), altering shade, dropping their gills and leaving the water to search out an upland retreat.
Q: The place are the newts in the summertime?
A: Some newts climate the dry months in rodent burrows, underneath rocks and logs, and wherever moisture is trapped. Others could stay of their mating swimming pools yr spherical if the swimming pools keep stuffed with water.
Q: How can I assist the newts?
A: When touring on South Park Drive, watch the bottom — particularly when biking. Drive slowly when passing the Regional Parks Botanic Backyard on Wildcat Canyon Highway, as many newts cross on this unprotected space. And by no means take away a newt from the wild. All animals in East Bay Regional Parks are protected underneath the park’s ordinance 38.
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