A road in Richmond is to be closed to traffic from next week – to allow toads to cross the road and get to their annual breeding grounds.
A 400-metre length of Church Road in Ham, Richmond affected by the road traffic order (pdf) passes through an area where common toads are known to cross the carriageway during their annual migration from hibernation to their breeding areas. The toads mate in the same ponds they were born in, following the same migratory route every year.
The road closure is intended to allow the toads to cross the carriageway unharmed and to eliminate the risk of accidents if drivers were to be distracted by the presence of these creatures in their path.
Not to mention, avoiding the squelching sound if any are hit.
To keep an eye on things, local volunteers maintain a “toad patrol” during the migration period to make sure the toads get across safely, and that people don’t decide that the road closure affects everyone except them. The volunteers also work to save the toads from falling into drains, which is a main cause of toad death when the road is closed.
A study by Froglife and partners from The University of Zurich in Switzerland found that on average common toads have declined by 68 percent over the last 30 years in the UK.
The horny toads will have the road to themselves from 8th March to 29th March. Richmond Council first introduced the road closure in 2010, following reports from local residents that toads were being killed during their annual migration.