City Closes Road Nightly To Save Migrating Salamanders

March 28, 2022

The city of Marquette in Michigan is closing a portion of a road to vehicular traffic every night to protect migrating salamanders.

city closes road salamanders
A blue spotted salamander / Credit: Detroit Free Press

From 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. daily until April 15 or until the migration is completed, a portion of Peter White Drive in Presque Isle Park will be closed, the city announced.

"Protecting the blue-spotted salamanders' migration is vital, as they are an indicator species, informing us about the health of our environment,” said Kathleen Henry, Superior Watershed Partnership (SWP) special projects coordinator and education specialist.

The salamanders spend the cold winter underground. Then every spring, they make their way to the water where they mate and lay eggs.

It was in 2018 that Eli Bieri, a former Northern Michigan University student, noticed vehicles were killing hundreds of these migrating salamanders.

"We would see thousands and thousands of salamanders crossing the street in just one night," Bieri told the Detroit Free Press. "It was really amazing — until we see cars zip by and squish salamanders. That really troubled me — it kept me awake at night."


He enlisted the help of the SWP, who reached out to Marquette city officials. Last spring they got the relevant stretch of road within the park temporary closed to evening and overnight vehicular traffic.

In 2019, before the closure, they found 429 salamander carcasses in the road. Last year, they counted only 3 carcasses.

With that success demonstrated, city officials are doing the same this year.

"The goal is to apply our science to wildlife management," Bieri said. "To be able to see in-person the science applied to successful management practices was very satisfying."

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