A road in Richmond has been partially closed for three weeks, to allow for migrating toads to cross unhindered to their breeding grounds.
The toads make their annual 100-metre journey from their habitat in Ham Common woods to pools on the other side of Church Road. Their mating season lasts for approximately three weeks.
To ensure the safety of the toads, a small section of Church Road between Ham Gate Avenue and Latchmere Lane is closed until Friday 1 April. Richmond Council says it has notified residents in the area of the migration and road closure by post. The closure began on 7 March.
There is a diversion in place to avoid the closed road, which is via Ham Gate Avenue, Upper Ham Road and Church Road and vice versa.
Richmond Council, which has issued the closure notice every year since 2010, said that shutting the road would also help to reduce the risk of accidents caused by drivers distracted by passing toads. The council started closing the street after locals petitioned for it. Conservationists were determined to reduce the number being killed by passing cars.
Residents and visitors to the area are being urged to keep an eye out for any toads, especially during the evenings when the roads are darker.
Image above: signage at the closed section of Church Road
‘Toad Patrol’ aid toads in their journey
Every year around 100,000 toads are helped across roads by volunteers throughout the UK. The number of ‘Toad Patrols’ has doubled since 2009. To aid the toads on their journey, small fencing has been installed along the edge of the common to help toad patrollers to pick them up and help them over the highway to complete their onward journey.
Equipped with high-visibility vests, Toad Patrollers from Froglife, a British wildlife charity, police the stretch of the road with other conservationists, collecting, counting and then releasing toads so they can continue their expedition.
Hundreds of common Bufo bufo toads will cross the closed road from Ham Common woods, where they have spent the winter.
Image above: a Toad Patrol volunteer assists two toads
Local people welcome the “very British” closure annually with many seeing the humour in it. Few people tend to complain about the scheme as the diversion doesn’t take drivers too far out of their way and residents have recognised the claim the toads have to the area.
Marketing consultant Liz Workman, 62, from Chiswick said:
‘’I am all for it, I think it is a very good idea. The road is not an essential road. We have to look after our world and our wildlife. Good on them.
‘’We are in England, luckily we can afford to think of such things. We are lucky enough to be in a first world country where we can worry about toads.’’
Retired customer services advisor Dorris Watt, 64, from Ham said:
‘’I think it is a good idea to protect the toads. This is not a road you desperately need to drive down and it has gone on without causing any complaints.
‘’Only people from outside the area would complain if they can’t park. The toads live here don’t they so it’s their right of way?’’
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