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Volunteers needed for Toad Patrol near Blashford Lakes in Ringwood

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VOLUNTEERS are being sought to help thousands of toads safely cross a road near Ringwood on their annual migration to breed.

Members of the local Toad Patrol group will be undertaking their all-day task along the route beside Blashford Lakes and are looking for people to join them.

Teresa Baker, who has been organising the operation since 1989, said: “Common toads are losing their habitat and declining across the UK.

Organiser Teresa Baker said more Toad Patrol helpers are needed for the migration effort
Organiser Teresa Baker said more Toad Patrol helpers are needed for the migration effort

"To make things worse, they are at great danger of being killed while migrating across a busy road to breed.

“We’re always looking for more willing volunteers who can spare a couple of hours once a week to add to our rota.

"And we would also be really grateful if more drivers reduced their speed and kept an eye out for toads on the short stretch of road we patrol. It would make an enormous difference and many more lives would be saved.”

Volunteers patrol by car from North Poulner along the Gorley Road and Highwood Lane past the Alice Lisle pub and up to the ford below Rockford Common.

When they see a toad they stop, pick it up and carry it across the road to safety.

The migration normally begins in January but only if temperatures are five degrees or above. If it is below, then the toads will wait for warmer weather.

Ms Baker said toads also prefer to cross when it is raining.

She said: “When the breeding season starts, our groups of volunteers take turns from dusk until 11pm helping them to get to the other side of the road safely.

“Numbers vary a lot, but at peak times there are sometimes as many as 250 toads trying to cross on a single night. Last year alone we were able to save 2,232 toads in total.”

At the start of the breeding season, male and female toads make their way towards Blashford Lakes to find a mate. By early spring, once their eggs are laid, they start to make the return journey.

Ms Baker is also appealing to drivers to slow down near the migration area to avoid hitting toads crossing the road.

To find out more about volunteering call 07870 395627, email rptoadpatrol1@gmail.com or go to www.rptoadpatrol.com

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