A TOAD patrol is being set up to pluck hundreds of toads from a perilous danger – by carrying them in buckets across a road.

Volunteers are need to help the thousands of toads to navigate a road running alongside Cod Beck Reservoir in order to return to their ancient breeding ground on the western edge of the North York Moors.

Common toads, currently hibernating on moorland surrounding the reservoir, will soon begin to make their annual journey to spawn, but run the risk of being squashed en route.

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Unlike frogs, toads move by crawling which makes them particularly vulnerable to traffic. Sluggish from hibernation, the males often compound the danger by sitting in the road to look for a potential mate.

Nationally toad numbers are declining, partly due to the effect of road traffic during the breeding season and also due to a loss of breeding ponds. It is estimated that 20 tons of toads are killed on the UK’s roads each year.

The patrol, supported by the North York Moors National Park Authority involves picking them up along a one-and-a-half mile stretch of road and carrying them to the water’s edge in a bucket. Patrols last from two to four weeks.

Steve Rogers, who coordinates the Osmotherley toad patrol, said anyone who could spare a few hours during some evenings would be very welcome: “On a busy night we can pick up hundreds of toads – 900 is the most we’ve ever collected in one go and in our best year we collected around 7,000 over the duration of the patrol.”

An information evening for those interested in helping out is being held at the Queen Catherine pub in Osmotherley on Tuesday, February 18 at 7.30pm. Anyone unable to make the evening can contact Steve Rogers on 01609-883615.