Thursday, 11 March 2010

40,000 toads to be rescued from death on Britain’s roads

Volunteers are gearing up to rescue over 40,000 toads from death on the UK’s roads in the coming fortnight, setting a new record.

The action is being coordinated to highlight to planners and highways authorities that roads need to be made more amphibian-friendly, to stop toads from undergoing further local extinctions in the UK.

With the sudden arrival of the milder spring conditions, toads across the country are now beginning their seasonal migrations to breeding ponds. At many sites, these migrations occur across busy roads and thousands of toads become victims of road traffic. A national network of volunteer ‘toad patrollers’ exists to help toads across designated roads, armed with torches and buckets.

This network of over a thousand volunteers rescued 34,970 toads last spring – the equivalent of a line of toads the length of 550 London buses.

The volunteers are coordinated through Toads on Roads, a campaign run by the charity Froglife. 758 toad-crossing points have been registered with the charity.

“These volunteer toad patrollers are incredibly committed and some volunteers have been out on spring nights saving toads for almost 25 years.” said Lucy Benyon, Froglife's Toads on Roads coordinator.

“This spring, we’re keen to break the 40,000 toad-mark, partly as a symbolic gesture to show planners and highways authorities that this is a serious issue for wildlife conservation, and that this issue isn’t going away without their taking notice.”

The common toad Bufo bufo has experienced declines in parts of the UK, in some cases caused by the effect of road traffic. In 2007, the common toad was added to the Government’s Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) priority species list.

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation is keen to inform planners and highways engineers about measures they can take to make amphibian-friendly roads. To help, they have produced a best-practice booklet called Common toads and roads: guidance for planners and highways engineers. The booklet is being given free to local authorities across England.

“Public bodies have a responsibility to consider biodiversity priority species, including toads, when they are planning new roads and other developments.” said Dr John Wilkinson, ARC’s species expert.

Measures that roads can take to be more amphibian-friendly include: ‘toad tunnels’, wildlife bridges, and lowered kerbs (which toads can climb) to escape the road surface.

To find your nearest registered toad crossing, visit:

ARC would like to thank the following funders who have made our recent updates to the Toads on Roads campaign possible: Patagonia Environmental Grants, ACO Wildlife Technologies and Greenwillows Associates Ltd.

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