Why did the toad cross the road?

1 March 2016
By Connexion journalist

This month, why not help a frog or a toad cross the road to reach their breeding grounds?

Healthy amphibians are a sign that all is well, ecologically-speaking, as they require good conditions both in water and on land and their porous, sensitive skin reacts quickly to pollution. They are also a crucial part of the food chain, eating insects and small vertebrates and being food for larger animals.

 Despite being protected by the law, one in five species is at risk of disappearing in France due to habitat fragmentation and destruction, traffic, and air, water and land pollution.

As their habitats are broken up into ever-smaller patches, many are forced to navigate the roads in order to reach their breeding grounds.

The most hands-on help is probably using a bucket to carry the animals manually across the road. Construction of toad tunnels - crapauducs - is even better. They do not have to be huge, but must be constructed in tandem with fencing to block access to the road and force animals into the tunnel.

Such measures are being considered in Loudéac, Brittany, where the huge 2,500ha forest is home to frogs, toads, salamanders and newts. Last year a great many were crushed crossing roads so locals have been holding meetings to seek solutions.

In nearby Vern-sur-Seiche they decided to close off a busy departmental road to avoid harm to animals.

There are lots of other ways to help, says wild animal charity Aspas. It is obviously important to raise awareness, by putting up posters and talking to friends and neighbours.

It is also important to lobby local authorities to take amphibians into account when making town planning decisions, undertaking works or constructing new roads and buildings.

People can also ask their local mairie for permission to put up road signs warning motorists to slow down and look out for amphibians.

At home, consider constructing a frog-friendly habitat by installing a pond or letting part of your garden go back to nature. Refrain from using insecticides or disposing of poisonous rubbish in your garden. Use organic solutions for repelling pests and keeping plants fertilised and healthy.

Aspas can supply reflective road signs warning motorists of amphibians crossing. They also have posters, booklets and more information about protecting these animals.

For more on Aspas, the national charity protecting wild animals, or to join and receive a free copy of its magazine, Goupil, visit: www.aspas-nature.org; call: 04 75 25 10 00 or write to: ASPAS, BP 505 – 26401 CREST CEDEX

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