Toad Patrol

Update May 2024

These are the numbers recorded by the Smallbrook toad patrol in Spring 2024:

The numbers are roughly the same as last year. 

522 toads, frogs and newts were saved from being killed by traffic.

We patrolled on 36 nights and made 123 volunteer trips. 

Warminster Town Council has asked Wiltshire Council to assess the feasibility of closing Smallbrook Road for a month, mid-February to mid-March from 2025. This would help to prevent amphibian deaths during the breeding season. Wiltshire Council Highways will be running a public consultation in June 2024.

A toadlet rescued in Spring

Statistics 2019-2024

Survey on potential road closure makes the news

In late 2023 Warminster Town Council conducted a survey on whether to temporarily close part of Smallbrook Road during the annual toad migration. This topic was picked up and reported on by BBC Wiltshire.

There is a recording of the broadcast that went out on Friday 16th December 2023 on Radio Wiltshire here.

The subject was also picked up by BBC Points West, and a piece was broadcast as part of Friday evening’s show.

It also appears on the BBC News website here.

Some of Warminster’s toad patrollers

Toads on Roads Summary 2023

The Smallbrook Toad Patrollers have added up the number of toads, frogs and newts saved this year. Between April and October, the volunteers patrolled Smallbrook Road for 62 hours, moving amphibians in buckets to save them from being killed by traffic. The patrollers rescued 797 male and 120 female toads as well as 144 frogs and 166 newts.

The UK population of toads has fallen by 68% in the last 30 years.  Worldwide, 41% of amphibians are threatened with extinction. In a recent episode of the BBC’s ‘Planet Earth III’ Sir David Attenborough warned that many species of amphibians are already extinct as they are vulnerable to fungal disease, pollution and habitat loss.

On Smallbrook Road female toads are particularly threatened as there are far fewer females than males. Each female can produce 1500 tadpoles so each one killed by a car reduces the number of Spring tadpoles. This year the patrollers recorded 55 dead female toads as well as 155 dead males, 38 dead frogs and 32 dead newts.

The Toad Patrollers have requested that Smallbrook Road is closed for a month in Spring so stop toads being killed as they head for their breeding ponds in Smallbrook Nature Reserve. Warminster Town Council held an informal consultation on the potential road closure which finished on 18th December. At their next meeting on 15th January, Councillors will decide whether to take the request further with Wiltshire Council who are the authority responsible for highways. The Toad Patrollers will be presenting the Town Council with a petition asking them to work with Wiltshire Council to close the road annually for a month from Spring 2025 and to fulfil both Councils’ legal duty to conserve biodiversity under the Environment Act 2021. The petition is open until the end of December.

It’s estimated that 20 tonnes of toads are killed on the UK’s roads every year! Here is the report from Froglife, on the national results from all the toad patrols.

Gathering at Smallbrook Car Park
Toad Patroller training, before the toad migration season begins

Ready to Patrol

Toad Patrollers ready to go
Toad Patrollers

The object of our interest

Common Toad
Common Toad