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Last Updated: Monday, 5 April, 2004, 10:19 GMT 11:19 UK
Plea for toad town's mating route
common toad
Patrols have helped 600 toads cross in just one night
Preserving the ancient stamping ground of thousands of breeding toads has become the mission of wildlife enthusiasts.

They want to see a road, which lies in the middle of the toads' route near the Victorian lake at Llandrindod Wells, temporarily closed.

Conservationists argue the breeding season only runs from mid-March to early April and the minor road is quiet.

But Powys County Council say closing the road is not an option.

This is a really special population and we don't want to lose it
Julian Jones, Radnorshire Wildlife Trust

"Llandrindod used to be called 'Toad Town' when CB radio became popular," said Julian Jones, of Radnorshire Wildlife Trust.

"I would like the council see how proud people are of it - the toad migration is a natural phenomenon.

"Let's do what we can to try and protect it," he said.

Mr Jones, conservation manager, said he appreciates the humour of the toads' endeavours but over the years, thousands have died.

"It is quite serious, this is a really special population and we don't want to lose it."

Studies have shown the numbers of the common toad population, which live in woodland on the other side of the road, are dropping.

The population is believed to have decreased from 10,000 in the late 1970s to around 4,000 today.

Trust workers and volunteers try to reduce the numbers of road-kill by going out at night with buckets, high-visibility jackets and torches.

They gather the road-crossing toads from dusk until around 2200 BST.

When the volunteers have a few in a bucket, they safely transport them to the lake for breeding.

Survival struggle

Toad tunnels, or building a wall and netting have been suggested as a solution but the migration route is half a kilometre long.

"The best thing would be to close the road temporarily," said Mr Jones.

The toads, which are believed to have followed the route for at least a hundred years, face a constant struggle for survival, said Mr Jones.

Around 96 per cent of toadlets are eaten in the lake, the rest have to cross the road to get back to the woodland before beginning the historic annual journey after they mature.

"Some can live until they are 20 years old but they also can be eaten by the otters," said Mr Jones.

"And some male toads try to cross the road again if they can't find a female.

"You can see them standing on their back legs looking for the females," he added.

A spokesman for Powys Council said they were unable to close the road because of the sporadic nature of the toad crossing.

"The regulations used for road closures - the Road Traffic Regulations 1984 - require specific dates and that is not possible with the migration," he said.

"Closing the road for an unspecified period would also cause considerable inconvenience to residents living nearby who need access at all times.

"There is already a warning sign showing a toad in place near the golf club junction and there plans for a second.

"The authority has been in regular contact with the wildlife trust over the situation and is anxious to work with them in the future," he said.

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