03/17/2015 05:00 EDT | Updated 05/16/2015 05:59 EDT

Kitchener closes Stauffer Drive for salamander safety

The City of Kitchener has closed part of Stauffer Drive so that a colony of salamanders can cross safely from one side of the street to the other. 

Jefferson salamanders, which live in the forests on either side of the road, are protected under Ontario's Endangered Species Act because their populations are in decline across the province. 

In Kitchener, the salamanders that live in the Doon South area face one particular threat: traffic. 

Every spring, they cross Stauffer Drive to get to the small, temporary ponds that form on the other side when the snow melts. 

"They're not exactly quick," said Stephan Murphy, an ecologist at the University of Waterloo who has studied salamanders in the past.

"Being salamanders, they're pretty slow. As a result, they actually have a hard time crossing large things like roads."

By blocking the road, Murphy said the city is taking a proactive step towards protecting Jefferson salamanders from being run over by cars and trucks.

In an email, the city said that this is the fourth time that the road has been closed so that the salamanders can safely get across.

The road is blocked at South Creek Drive and at Caryndale Drive and will remain closed to vehicle traffic until May 1.