A COMMUNITY is rallying round to protect its toads.

Regular patrols by volunteers from Leeming and Oxenhope are helping to keep the amphibians safe.

And further support has been provided.

Oxenhope Village Council has funded and installed two signs in Denholme Road, Leeming, to warn of toads crossing.

The location is registered as a patrol site with national wildlife charity, Froglife.

For several weeks each year, conservation enthusiasts carry out daily patrols along the stretch of road in a bid to protect dozens of migrating toads as they wake from hibernation and head for their historical breeding ground – Leeming Reservoir.

A spokesman said: “The impenetrable reservoir wall acts as a barrier, preventing the toads from crossing to safety and trapping them on the road.

“Sadly a lot still get killed by cars, but the patrol volunteers rescue as many as they can. They pick-up the toads and give them free rides in a bucket to the reservoir.

“The patrollers wear reflective jackets and carry torches, but to keep themselves and the toads safe they request that drivers slow down.

“It is likely the toads will be on the move for the next few weeks. If you see one and it is safe to stop, please help it across the road so it’s nearer the reservoir and out of danger.”

Villager Jane Topham is the Leeming toad patrol site manager.

She has been involved in the rescuing of toads for four years.

Jane organised a recent ‘Toadgether’ with fellow patrollers from Riddlesden, to celebrate the start of the toad migration and the erection of the new signage.

She said: “According to research, the common toad population has declined by 68 per cent in the last 30 years.

“Our mission to try to rescue the local toads has really captured the interest of many residents, and has become a mini obsession for those of us who patrol. I have been amazed and encouraged by the interest from locals on social media.

“Last year we rescued 252 toads and over the season, 23 people volunteered.

“If you are interested in volunteering as a toad patroller, go online and read the Toad on Roads section of the Froglife website. This will tell you where your nearest patrol is and give lots of information to keep you and the toads safe.”

Tribute is paid to the volunteers by Oxenhope village councillor, Michelle Dawson.

She said: “Jane and the members of the toad patrol do a fantastic job. Oxenhope Village Council is pleased to be able to help this group of volunteers in its efforts to protect our local amphibians. We hope the road signs are effective at reducing toad casualties as they migrate to their breeding grounds.”