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Ministry of Environment

Incidental Observations

Great Basin Spadefoot (Spea intermontana)

Incidental Observations are sightings of amphibians and reptiles (and other wildlife) that you make when you are out and about hiking, camping, swimming, driving etc. These observations are important because they tell us what species are present in different locations. Understanding the distribution of species is essential for effective management and conservation of species, because if a developer or industry proponent does not know that a particular species is present in a given area then they cannot take measures to protect the species or its habitat. Some areas can have high significance to local populations even if they are used for only a short period during specific seasons (e.g., breeding sites, hibernation sites, migration routes, etc.). This is when the serendipity of being at the right place at the right time would provide extremely useful information.

Before leaving on a hike or trip
  1. Print out a few Incidental Observations paper forms and the useful hints for data collection to put in your backpack along with pencils to note down essential information. There are only a few mandatory pieces of information to be able to contribute to the provincial database: Location, date, species observed and number of animals/eggs/egg masses observed.
  2. There are two ways to record the location of the observation:
    1. Take a GPS to record location. The GPS should be set to the Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) system based on North American Datum (NAD) 83.
    2. If you do not have a GPS you can also select the location using the mapping tool when you enter the data online. Remember to note down some landmarks where you saw the animal so that it is easier to pinpoint the exact location on a map. If you have a UTM in NAD27, please indicate this in the Comments field.
  3. Take a camera to photograph the animal and the habitat.
When you are in the field observing the animal write down the necessary information to report your sighting to the provincial database:
  1. Species. The easiest way to fill this field during online data entry is to use the “select” button so that the correct common and Latin name and code are entered. Typing in a generic word like frog or toad or salamander or boa will bring up a list of choices that you can select from. If you are unable to identify the animal in the field, take photographs from different angles and email them to BC Frogwatch for identification.
  2. Life-stage, sex, and number. Check out some hints for assessing life-stage and sex, and estimating numbers.
  3. Although not essential for online data entry, information on habitat and animal condition can increase the value of the observation for later studies. Check out some tips for noting relevant information.
When you return home
  1. Enter the data online

This site can also be used to report on dead, injured, or sick animals. However, if you need immediate attention for the animal or animals or if there is an urgent need to deal with the threat causing injury/mortality, please call your nearest Ministry of Environment or Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations office and request immediate attention.

The data entered online is quality checked (e.g., verify identity if photograph is attached, verify is record is within the known range of a species) and entered into the provincial wildlife database that used by biologists to manage and conserve wildlife in B.C.

Are you interested in participating in the long-term monitoring program?