Berkeley is the kind of city where they will shut down roads to create a safe newt crossing, and the newt enthusiasts’ efforts may be paying off, as people say they’re seeing “twice the number of baby newts this year than we had last year.”

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — for people who are really into the tiny four-legged amphibians called newts. The rainy season brings the newts out of the ground, where they trek back to the lakes in which they were born. Up near Sonoma County’s Lake Laguna, Chileno Valley Newt Brigade founder Sally Gale says they're seeing record numbers of newts.  “We’ve had twice the number of baby newts this year than we had last year,” Gale told Bay Nature, who called the nearly 10,000 newts spotted a “banner year baby newts in the North Bay.

The problem is that nearly one in five of those newts was already dead, crushed by cars as they made their way across roads on their journey.

Meanwhile in Berkeley, South Park Drive in Tilden Regional Park is closed until March 31, 2024, in order to secure safe passage for the newts. But that’s only one road in a large park, and teams of volunteers frequently show up in the park to pick up the little newts and carry them across the road so they don’t get run over.

Oaklandside joined the team of newt savers one recent night in Tilden Park, led by herpetologist Tiffany Yap (herpetologists are reptile and amphibian experts). Yap is responsible for the tweet above, as well as the preceding Youtube video of newts marching to the sounds of “Dynamite” by BTS.

And while these groups save a lot of newts, they also see many crushed by car traffic. Chileno Valley Newt Brigade’s Sally Gale told Oaklandside about the night she decided to start the group when encountering so many crushed newt corpses on Sonoma County's Chileno Valley Road.

“At the end of the walk, I just said to myself, ‘This cannot continue, this is not right,’” Gale explained to Oaklandside. “For me, it was unacceptable. It wasn’t right that these small animals, defenseless, slow, soft animals, who are doing their normal thing that they’ve been doing for hundreds and thousands of years, probably, you know, were getting run over by cars that people were driving without really realizing that they were even on the ground. I just thought you know ‘this is wrong and I’m gonna do something about it, darn it!’”

Northern California’s newts are still being killed in large numbers by cars. But their apparently rebounding population is good news, or rather, good newts.

Related: I-280 On the Peninsula Is the Roadkill Capital of California [SFist]

Image: Closed up adult Himalayan newt, crocodile newt, Himalayan salamander, or red knobby newt, low angle view, side shot, in the dusk foraging on the the wet rock covered with green moss and dry leaves in tropical moist montane forest, national park in high mountain, northern Thailand. (Getty Images)