A GROUP of people whose mission it is to help migrating toads in the New Forest area are looking for new volunteers.

The Ringwood and Poulner Toad Patrol will soon be venturing out on dark, wet evenings to help toads across roads.

Teresa Baker, a longstanding wildlife supporter who has been organising the toad patrol since 1989, is once again looking for new volunteers and also asked drivers to slow down to help avoid accidentally killing the toads.

“Common toads are losing their habitat and declining across the UK,” she said.

“And to make things worse, they’re at great danger of of being killed while migrating across a busy road to breed.

“Usually the toads are on the move in January, but only if the weather conditions are suitable for them – five degrees and above.

“If January is cold, they won’t cross until it warms up. Wet nights are perfect but they’ll also cross when it’s not raining, particularly in the beginning when they’re keen to get down to the lake.

“When the breeding season starts, our groups of volunteers take turns from dusk until 11pm helping them to get to the other side of the road safely.

“Numbers vary a lot, but at peak times there are sometimes as many as 250 toads trying to cross on a single night. Last year alone we were able to save 1,945 toads in total.

“We’re always looking for more willing volunteers who can spare a couple of hours once a week to add to our rota. And we’d also be really grateful if more drivers reduced their speed and kept an eye out for toads on the short stretch of road we patrol. It would make an enormous difference and many more lives would be saved.”

At the start of the breeding season in mid to late January, male and female toads descend from woods towards the Blashford Lakes to find a mate and breed.

By early Spring once their eggs are laid they start to make the return journey, once again facing the dangers of the busy road.

Volunteers patrol from North Poulner along the Gorley Road and Highwood Lane past the Alice Lisle up to the ford below Rockford Common.

To find out more or ask about volunteering visit www.rptoadpatrol.com