Toads looking for love this Valentine’s Day are at risk of being run over in Gloucestershire, wildlife experts have warned.
Staff at the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust are urging local residents to patrol roads throughout the county to help the amorous amphibians cross the road safely during the mating season.
Each year, thousands of toads migrate back to the ponds where they were born in the quest for a partner.
But many don’t make it to their happy spawning grounds, and their natural 12-year life span is cut short by the wheels of a car.
The charity Frog Life estimates that last year more than 20 tonnes of toads were killed on Britain’s roads.
Ellen Winter, of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, stressed the importance of the initiative.
She said: “Toad populations are declining at a rapid rate. Places which once anecdotally had hundreds are now only seeing a couple. Given last year’s rate of decline, the toad population is dangerously at risk of extinction.”
As part of the international ‘Toads on Roads’ campaign, last spring around 1,700 toads were saved from squashing in the Stroud district alone thanks to 70 helpful local residents patrolling country roads at night.
But more patrollers are needed this year and the trust is urging people throughout the county to get in touch if they can help.
Ellen added: “I like to call it ‘two hours for toads’. The evening rush hours are the most dangerous time. If you want to actively save wildlife, toad patrolling is one of the best things you can do.”
Patrollers head out on mild evenings between February and April, wearing a high- visibility jacket to keep an eye on known toad crossings and help the critters across the road in a bucket.
For those looking to lend a hand, toad patroller training will take place on Tuesday evening at The Old Spot, Dursley, from 6pm to 8pm to show people how they can help across the county.
Contact Ellen on ellen.winter@gloucestershire wildlifetrust.co.uk or call 01452 383333.