SPECIALLY-made toad signs have been installed on a busy Osmotherly road ahead of the annual mating season.

Each year, thousands of toads cross the village road between grassland and the Cod Beck reservoir, but in some attempts to negotiate traffic, they are killed by passing cars.

To combat the village's problem, each year volunteers from the Osmotherly Toad Patrol ask North Yorkshire County Council's highways officer to install the specially-made 'toad signs' to warn passing motorists of the daily crossings.

Steve Rogers, who heads Osmotherly's Toad Patrol, said: “The toads tend to come out to mate as dusk falls and the night draws in.

"And as the road gives the males a much better view of females than when they are among the bracken of the moorland they tend to sit there and wait."

The signs, which are used and maintained by the council each year, are completely road legal, and reflect vehicle headlights in the same way a warning sign would.

The Osmotherly toad patrol claimed that more than 1,000 deceased toads had to be cleared from the road on one occasion.

The Northern Echo:

Mr Rogers added: "So many of them get squashed, because they are hard to spot in the dark.

"In any one year we can lose up to 400 toads on average, which is a tragedy."

But known as a national toad hot-spot, Mr Rogers said the adjacent Cod Beck reservoir in the village is home to one of the largest toad populations in the country.

Councillor Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire County Council, said: “We do all we can to make our roads fit for purpose and try to accommodate all road users and that includes toads.

"As soon as they get the call from the toad patrol our officers are only too happy to go up to Osmotherley to put up the signs.

"It’s important to protect the wildlife of this beautiful county where we can – and to keep our toads safe when love is in the air.