Hopping into action for toads

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SOME slippery characters are being given a helping hand by villagers.

People in Welton have been out on the streets every evening for the past few weeks helping toads cross roads and get to their spawning pond.

Jeanette Mortimore has been leading the volunteers since the ‘toad patrol’ was started in 1988.

She said: “They have a natural instinct to get to the pond to breed which involves crossing the main road through the village to get there, and then obviously they all come back across to go home again.

“For me, growing up in the village, they’ve always been a factor of life here and we used to help them as children – people just picked them up if they spotted them and popped them over the wall into the pond.

“But as more people bought cars the road has got busier.”

She added: “It’s a bit strange to some people, but I’m passionate about it.

“I know it doesn’t look like a big thing, but if we all do a little bit to help here and there the whole world would be better.”

To help the patrol the volunteers have special toad signs to warn motorists to slow down near the creatures’ favourite crossing spot.

In a night the toad catchers can collect anything between 10 to 50 of the amphibians – the numbers vary depending on the weather.

Helping Mrs Mortimore have been a variety of villagers, including some of the younger residents.

Toby Bassett, 11, and sister Lauren, nine, are just two of the children who have been out picking up the toads.

Toby said: “We were out every evening last week.

“We pick them up and put them in a bucket and then at the end of the night we let them go. When you get a bucket full they make a lot of noise.

“It’s good to do because it’s helping out the village really.”

Lauren said: “I do it because I don’t want any of them to get squashed by the cars.”

Mrs Mortimore said: “Years ago I seem to remember the toads every year, but this is the first time we’ve had a toad patrol for 10 years because there’s not been the numbers of them.

“Someone told me they come in a 10-year cycle, but maybe this means there will be more and more in coming years.

“It’s great because I’ve had people come up to me saying they used to help when they were children.

“And now we’ve got youngsters coming out and helping as well – the toads almost bring the village together.”