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Saturday, 9 June, 2001, 15:30 GMT 16:30 UK
Rare toads hop home after 30 years
Natterjack toad
The natterjack toad left the area 30 years ago
Conservationists are celebrating after efforts to re-introduce the rare natterjack toad to north Wales proved a major success.

The Countryside Council for Wales has said that toads from Merseyside have re-populated former strongholds in sand dunes on the north Wales coastline.

Re-introduction has been achieved with the help of The Herpetological Conservation Trust, a national charity dedicated to the conservation of reptiles and amphibians.

A conservationist at work
Latest counts suggest that around a hundred of these golden-eyed amphibians, with the distinctive yellow stripe down their backs, now live near Talacre, a beach popular with tourists.

The work to create a number of pools was funded by BHP Petroleum - which owns a proportion of the site - as part of the company's land management programme.

"Talacre has proved to be an ideal site for the natterjack toad," said Matthew Ellis, CCW's Flintshire conservation officer.

"These new pools mean that breeding sites are in prime condition.

Improving conditions

"Once the pools were ready, we then transported spawn from Merseyside, where their numbers are quite healthy."

Volunteer workers joined Flintshire Countryside Service rangers to help improve site conditions for the toads.

Some of the work on site was carried out by New Deal and Community Service teams.

A comprehensive monitoring programme has been set up to help ensure the toads continue to breed successfully.

Loss of habitat

Natterjack toads were last recorded on the North Wales coast during the 1960s.

Their numbers dwindled because of a loss of breeding and feeding areas because of building work, tourist developments, and human disturbance.

But as part of a UK recovery project, partly funded by CCW and its English equivalent English Nature, conservationists have been able to re-establish toad populations in several areas.

The natterjack toad is a vulnerable species in many areas of Europe, and is protected under UK and European law.

Adult toads like to burrow in soft sand where they hide in daytime and hibernate in winter.

The male makes a loud rasping call during the breeding season.

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Amphibians facing global decline
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