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Toad Patrol

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A couple of Februarys ago, I walked up Church Lane and was appalled by the carnage I found – dead and dying toads all over the road. Now I’m not squeamish or sentimental but this was shocking. What was going on and why? It was obvious that the animals had been squashed by cars but why were so many in the road anyway?

Well I discovered that amphibians, especially common toads are very particular about where they breed and will follow the same route back to their ancestral ponds each year. If that route crosses a road or a drain, the dangers are obvious to us. But even if the toads had a copy of the Highway Code (and could read it), they would still be driven by that primal instinct to return to their pond.

I couldn’t bear the idea of another slaughter so last year I signed up as a Toad Patroller. Supported by Froglife and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust (GLOS Toads on Roads), I went out most nights over a two-month period. It didn’t take very long – the toads move just after dusk, not right through the night. I say I – actually I dragged my husband and son into it, making sure that somebody checked on the nights I was working away.

It turned out to be fun and I’m pleased to say that neither husband nor son have thrown their hands up in horror at the idea of doing it again. But we would all welcome some extra patrollers to join us.

It is dark, can be wet, can be cold, can be depressing when, too late, you see a toad in a car’s headlights. But you see far more living toads. And then there are the newts and frogs and badgers, and foxes, owls… Last year we helped 298 toads – did you know they sing? And a box of frogs really is ‘mad’?

If you would like to help out, please contact me and I will get you registered – Froglife provides insurance for Patrollers. You are however responsible for your own safety so will need a torch, high vis wet weather clothing, and a mobile phone. Oh and a bucket (and I prefer to use rubber gloves – still don’t like touching toads). Under 18s are welcome to join in but will need to be supervised by a parent or responsible adult. You would need to be on patrol from just before dusk and for about an hour (maybe less, maybe more depending on how active the toads are). Toads start to move just before dark.

It would be lovely to have a rota and a few extra hands on busy nights. If you are unable to help out, you can do your bit by taking extra care driving around Stinchcombe, especially around dusk in February/March (the evening rush hour) .The Toad crossing area (Church Lane and part of Wick Lane) is registered with the Department of Transport and warning signs will be in place during the migration.

For more information contact me
Jayne Kirkham