A group of New Forest locals are calling for people to become toad chaperones to help the amphibians cross busy roads during their breeding season. 

Dozens of volunteers at The Ringwood and Poulner Toad Patrol aim to protect the area’s toads as they make the journey to nearby Blashford Lakes in January, to breed and lay eggs. 

The patrol was set up in 1989 by wildlife enthusiast Teresa Baker, and is now led by Nicola Yorke, who has been a volunteer since 2021.

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The 56-strong group is registered with wildlife charity Froglife, and its volunteers operate by driving slowly along the road after dusk, looking out for toads which they then carry safely across the road. 

Toads must make this journey twice during the season, once as they travel to the reserve to breed, and again once they have laid their eggs.

Salisbury Journal: A toad, photographed by The Ringwood and Poulner Toad Patrol

Yorke described her role as a “great honour,” and credited her “friendly, inclusive group”. 

The patrol leader said that she finds the patrol very relaxing, describing the experience as “a little bit of time for me”. 

The group attracts a wide variety of ages, and is often a family affair, Yorke told the Echo.

The patrol often meets up at the Alice Lisle pub, and is made up of “people who seem to care about the local environment and want to do a little bit to help", she said. 

On the importance of her patrol, Yorke said: “Common toads are declining across the UK and face huge dangers as they crawl across busy roads.

From our local point of view, if we weren't patrolling, a lot more toads would die on our patrol routes."

Ms Yorke also called upon local residents to play their part: “We’d be really grateful if more drivers slowed down and kept an eye out for toads on the short stretch of road we patrol from the North Poulner crossroads up to Rockford Common. 

“It would make an enormous difference and many more precious lives would be saved,” she said. 

With the patrols often coinciding with rush hour traffic, Yorke said that her group aim to be as considerate as they can. 

Yorke appealed for new volunteers to join the group by emailing rptoadpatrol1@gmail.com.