Toad warning sign

Council signs to protect toad patrols and support that important love match!

14 January 2021

Migrating toads in the village of Smallwood are to get special protection as they head off to breed, thanks to Cheshire East Council.

The council has responded to a plea from Smallwood Toad Patrols to erect signs on roads in the village, where toads cross to mate on the warmer spring evenings.

More than 40 village volunteers – aged from seven to 76 – have managed to save thousands of toads, which otherwise might have become victims of passing traffic. The volunteers wear high visibility clothing and put down traffic cones to warn drivers that they are approaching a recognised toad crossing.

Now the council is to erect roadside signs to help protect the volunteers – and the toads – in the hope that motorists will slow down and do their bit for local wildlife conservation.

Each year the toads like to crawl back to their breeding ponds from their over-wintering sites and the warmer night-time temperatures, and damp conditions, are conducive to their springtime mating habits. Their breeding grounds are located near to a site of special scientific interest (SSSI).

Jane Smith, co-ordinator of the Smallwood group, said: “Our site is registered with the Department of Transport and we are one of a small number of similar toad crossing sites in Cheshire East.

“The additional warning signs will help us to feel safe. On some nights we can see several hundred toads crossing so we help them by placing them in buckets to carry them to safety.

“We are grateful to Cheshire East Council for agreeing to install these signs. We put in many hours each spring and it’s lovely to know our work is recognised by the council.

“We feel our patrols plus warning signs will help to keep the local toad population safe and thriving. Of course, during this pandemic we have to comply with all the current restrictions and that can have an impact on how many toads we can rescue.”Councillor Laura Crane Highways and Waste

Councillor Laura Crane, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for highways and waste, said: “This is extremely important conservation work and we applaud the volunteers for their commitment in protecting the areas toad population.

“I am assured that we will be installing four signs at two locations by the end of January in time for their breeding season.”

The toad species is more than 18,000 years old and survived the last ice age. They always return to the same spawning ponds each spring. Sadly, thousands are killed on the country’s roads every year as both males and females make the hazardous journey.

The toad population has declined by 68 per cent over the past 30 years, with road and farm traffic, predators and pesticides their biggest threat.