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Volunteers are needed to help save thousands of toads and other amphibians from being killed as they cross busy roads to breed.
Every year toads, frogs and newts migrate from their winter hibernation sites to ponds and streams.
Toads in particular are very fussy about where they breed and like to return to their ancestral ponds and often cross busy roads carrying heavy traffic to reach them.
They can travel more than half a mile (1km) during their perilous journeys back to their spawning ground.
Some roads are closed for the breeding season, allowing the animals to cross safely, but on the rest of them toads have to take a chance.
The Avon Reptile & Amphibian Group (ARAG) and Bristol Zoological Society are now calling on people to help collect migrating toads and move them to safe breeding sites.
Toad patrols are held in Fishponds, Chew Valley, Bitton, Portishead and Bath, and organisers are now looking for volunteers to help at these sites.
Independent toad patrols also take place across Somerset and Gloucestershire including Pill, Brewham, Castle Cary, Edington Village, Priddy, Winscombe Hill, Hawkridge, Compton Martin and a new patrol at Cameley near Temple Cloud.
Andy Ryder from Avon Reptile & Amphibian Group said: “We urgently need volunteers to assist with rescue efforts throughout the local area.
“Toads start to move once evening temperatures exceed 6C. They prefer wet evenings without strong winds. The migration period typically lasts for up to four weeks and could start at any time.
“To help, you just need to be able to spare a few evenings from 6pm onwards. You will need a bucket, a torch and a high visibility jacket.”
Jen Nightingale, UK conservation manager at Bristol Zoological Society, said: “This is the ninth year that we have helped with toad patrols and, to date, these patrols have saved tens of thousands of toads from death on busy roads.
“Last year alone volunteers saved more than 10,000 amphibians. This is a great achievement, but we couldn’t do it without the support of our hard-working volunteers, and we are keen to continue this important work as the new breeding season begins.”
To find details of other toad patrols in the South West or elsewhere in the UK, visit the Froglife website. Froglife is a national wildlife charity committed to the conservation of amphibians and reptiles and saving the habitats they depend on.
Bristol Zoo Gardens is a conservation and education charity and relies on the generous support of the public not only to fund its important work in the zoo, but also its vital conservation and research projects spanning five continents.
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