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Monday, 28 March 2011

Road in France closed for amorous toads

Spring isn't just "in the air" it's here. The signs are everywhere; from the blossom on the trees to the daffodils in full bloom.

The clocks have gone forward, the days are getting longer and... toads are feeling randy.

A young common toad (from Wikipedia, author TJ Blackwell)

And that spells danger for Bufo bufo - aka the common or European toad - as it quite literally risks life and limb to meet its sexual urges.

Because as the critter looks for a suitable water point to do "what comes naturally" and lay the spawn which will ensure future generations, it often has to cross roads that lie directly in its migratory path.

Toad meets car with the inevitable result.

Such is the case of the D190 in the village of Bogève in the Alpine département of Haute Savoie.

According to the La Ligue pour la protection des oiseaux, LPO (which although it is "the league for the protection of birds" also serves to defend the interests of other creatures - great and small) it's a road which is particularly hazardous (to put it mildly) for amorous toads.

"Between 30 and 50 per cent of them attempting to cross the road are crushed," said Xavier Birot-Colomb who carried out a study on behalf of the LPO.

"The mortality rate is so high that it threatens the long-term survival of the local toad population," he added.

To the rescue though has come the general council of the département of Haute-Savoie.

It has decided that, until further notice, the road will be closed every night from six o'clock in the evening until seven o'clock the following morning.

Although the decision has been welcomed by Pierre Athanaze, the president of the wildlife protection association Association de sauvegarde et de protection des animaux sauvages, ASPAS, he also points out that it relies heavily on the weather playing its part.

"Those are certainly the hours when the toads are usually at their most active" he said.

"And that's also true for other amphibians such as frogs and newts, he continued.

"But if there's a lot of rain it could encourage many of the toads to try crossing during the day and they'll inevitably end up being crushed."

Not everyone though is entirely happy with the general council's decision.

"Personally I think closing the road is a bit of an exaggeration," the mayor of Bogève, Bernard Bouvier, told Europe 1 radio.

"I had hoped that another alternative could be found."

One possible future solution suggested by the animal charity Fondation 30 millions d'amis on its website is to follow the example set in other parts of France by local authorities who have built tunnels or "crapauducs" (yes that really is the word; a combination of the French for toad - "crapaud" and viaduct - "viaduc").

And that, as far as Joël Baud-Grasset, a councillor who supported the road closure, is concerned, is one of the reasons the decision was taken.

"It might seem a little crazy but it'll also help inform local people about the habits of the amphibian population" he said.

"At the same time it'll give the chance to study more closely the exact migratory routes so that we can come up with a more permanent solution."

So Mr and Mrs Toad can cross the road in safety - provided they stick to nighttime liaisons...and wear watches presumably.


Anonymous said...

Crapauduc! I like the word. Poor devils. Good thing though to close the road at night.

Anonymous said...

OMG, do you see whats taking place in Syria? Regardless of a brutal government crackdown, the manifestations continue

Anonymous said...

Any news about A defector's unexplainable disappearance?

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