Volunteers who put their own lives at risk to save more than 9,000 toads being killed on a busy road last year are back out in force.
The Toadwatch group is once again helping common toads cross the busy A134 at Cranwich to get to breeding ponds on the other side – and are calling on motorists to slow down while they carry out their patrols.
This is the third year the volunteers have run the toad patrols, with the crossing now being officially recognised as one of the biggest toad migration sites in the country.
Volunteer Holly McGuirk said over the next few weeks, during the breeding season, the volunteers will help thousands of toads move from their hibernation grounds in Thetford Forest to their spawning ponds south east of Didlington.
She said the crossings are usually carried out in the evenings, when it’s dark, and can be very dangerous.
“We wear high visibility jackets and have torches but we still find it really hard. Some cars don’t slow down or give us any room,” she said.
“People think we’re mad for doing it, but if we didn’t we wouldn’t have any toads left.”
The Toadwatch group, which also runs patrols at Oxborough and Cockley Cley, was formed in 2011 in response to the number of toads killed every year on the road.
Then, in January last year, the group received a welcome boost when the Forestry Commission funded toad traps and a 1ft high fence to keep the toads off the road until patrollers arrived to lift them across safely.
Mrs McGuirk said the fence helped save more than 9,000 toads during the breeding season last year, with more than 1,000 in one night alone.
The fence is also being extended this year, thanks to funding from Norfolk County Council, and the group is continuing its efforts to raise money to build a toad tunnel underneath the road in future.
The group currently has around 30 volunteers, but more are always welcome.
Patrols are usually carried out in the evenings, although children are able to help out in the day when it is safer.
Mrs McGuirk, who has three children aged three, eight and 11, said youngsters love to get involved.
Anyone interested in helping out can contact volunteer co-ordinator Donna Stocking on 07876 324231 or visit the group’s Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/groups/toadwatchers