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Traffic stops for troubled toad

IN WHAT is believed the first scheme of its kind in Britain, a busy country road will be closed to traffic this morning to prevent hundreds of toads being squashed on their perilous crawl towards breeding ponds.

The one-mile stretch of Beanford Lane in the village of Oxton, Nottinghamshire, will be cordoned off for the rest of the month to protect Bufo bufo, or the common toad, which is particularly vulnerable to traffic as it crawls rather than hops, unlike the frog, its cousin.

The road closure, which has been sanctioned by the local council, is the brainchild of Margaret Cooper, a toad lover who has been backed by the Nottingham Wildlife Trust."The only way to save them was to close the road. We reckon out of about 1,000 that crossed last year, 300 were squashed."

Despite the dangers of traffic, the chief threat to the survival of the toad is the destruction of its natural wetland habitat It has been less successful than the frog in adapting to garden ponds.

Toad patrols around the country monitor the movement of toads at this time of year. Volunteers put up warning signs, asking drivers to slow down.