On Centre: Centre Region | Warts and all, Patton Township adopts spadefoot toad

mcarroll@centredaily.comApril 17, 2014 

First it threw a wrench in plans for a park in the Gray’s Woods neighborhood.

Then the Eastern spadefoot toad changed the path of a proposed bicycle and pedestrian trail along Circleville Road.

It was enough to get the attention of Patton Township supervisors — even for a creature that spends most of its life underground, well out of the spotlight.

“The Eastern spadefoot toad has done something that no one of our constituents could have done,” Supervisor Jeff Luck said at a meeting last week. “(It) forced us to modify two projects by its very existence.”

The supervisors took the unusual step last week of rewarding the toad for what some might see as inconvenience. They named it the township’s official amphibian.

“Actually, I will say I think the toad in those instances kind of made us better people,” Luck said, “by causing us to reconsider the impact on the environment of what we were doing.

“So out of both respect and humility for the toad’s awesome power, I completely support adoption,” he said.

Just last month, township officials learned they would have to move a planned bicycle and pedestrian path to accommodate the creature, which is considered endangered by the state Fish and Boat Commission.

The area where the endangered toad was spotted is considered an exceptional value wetland because of its presence, and the state Department of Environmental Protection is requiring the township take steps to protect the habitat.

According to the Fish and Boat Commission, the toad spends most of its time underground, surfacing largely when there is heavy rainfall in the spring and midsummer to forage or mate.

It remains to be seen what honors and responsibilities go along with being official township amphibian.

Luck, for one, recommended stocking up on spadefoot toad plush toys.

Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter.

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