Friday, 18 September 2009

Earlier toad migrations spark government rethink

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation has been informed that the government’s Department for Transport will rethink rules governing temporary ‘Toad Crossing’ signs.

Traditionally toad signs in many areas could only be erected between February and May. Now, because of earlier migratory habits of the common toad, councils will now be allowed to erect signs from January onwards.

Thousands of toads migrate from hibernation sites to breeding ponds in early spring. In many areas this journey, sometimes up to a mile, will involve crossing roads.

“Because of changes in our climate they are breeding and migrating earlier in the year," said Amphibian and Reptile Conservation’s Dr. John Wilkinson. “Erecting toad crossing warning signs up to a month earlier could potentially save thousands of toads every year."

"We look forward to hearing more information about the change in signage laws from the Department of Transport.”

The common toad Bufo bufo is found throughout Britain, though populations are thought to have disappeared in recent decades, particularly in the south east of England.

Declines have been so severe that the species is now listed on the UK government’s ‘Biodiversity Action Plan’ watchlist.

"Toad mortality is very high on the roads. Once you used to see a flood of the creatures, now it is down to a trickle,” said Dr. Wilkinson. "They have also suffered because of a loss of habitat, a loss of woodland and the increased use of pesticides."

In a Telegraph article today Edmund King, the AA’s President said: "To be honest I have always wondered what drivers are supposed to do if they see amphibians in the road in front of them."

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation advise the following:

1. Slow down carefully and, if possible, safely drive around toads.

2. Note your location, the approximate number of animals and, if possible, the direction the toads are moving and report this to Froglife – they map where crossings occur, support the process of sign erection and in some places we can help coordinate volunteer ‘Toad Patrols’.

For more about Toads on Roads (through Froglife) visit:

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