Roads of Toads

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 26 February 2011

More than 700 common toads have crossed a busy road in Cumbria on their way to Bassenthwaite Lake – but 200 have been killed in the process.

Common Toad numbers are dropping.

Volunteers helped 500 toads cross the A591 near Keswick this week but 200 didn’t make it after being squashed by cars.

Sam Griffin, chairman of the Cumbria Amphibian and Reptile Group (CARG), said: “The rescue process will go on for the next three weeks.

“It is an important time as the toads wake up from hibernation in Dodd Wood and head down hill towards their breeding ponds in Bassenthwaite.

“They will spend the next few weeks breeding in the water and then they will come back up towards the road again in the autumn. When they come back up they are not en masse so they’re easier to deal with.

“The problem is the sheer number of them. We put signs up to warn motorists but it’s hard to get them to slow down. They don’t take much notice of us wearing high visibility vests so the toads don’t stand a chance.”

Mr Griffin said that they had seen real losses in the number of toads over the last 10 to 20 years.

He said: “The numbers are dropping which is unfortunate. The species has suffered a decline over the past decade. “We have recruited some new volunteers but more are still needed.”

Mr Griffin said they have to dodge the traffic on the road to collect the toads. “We pick them up in our hands and then pop them in a bucket.”

A similar rescue operation has also been ongoing on Mirehouse Road in Whitehaven. Mr Griffin said he spoke to the volunteer there earlier this week when he had managed to help 20 toads.

The reason for the decline in common toads is blamed on road traffic.

The volunteers are part of a national campaign called Toads on Roads, co-ordinated by the national wildlife charity Froglife, and supported by Cumbria Amphibian and Reptile Group, a local network of volunteers concerned with amphibian and reptile conservation.

By: Pam McClounie
Source: News and Star

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