There are 700 million cars on the planet: if every car hit a frog only once every ten years, that would still mean 70 million frogs die on roads every year! One of the best ways to save the frogs is by slowing down when driving on wet nights. This page details some of the efforts going on around the world by various groups dedicated to reducing amphibian road mortality. Please contact us if your group's efforts are not listed.
Please read this 2008 paper on amphibian road mortality by Benedikt Schmidt and Silvia Zumbach to learn all about preventing amphibian road mortality.
Thanks to the Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Trust for creating this excellent guide to minimizing the effects of roads on amphibians.
Courtesy of Miklós Puky
Studies from different continents have proved amphibians to be the most frequently killed vertebrates on roads. In Central-Europe their ratio is between 70 and 88 percent. Local populations are known to become extinct or genetically isolated, and avoidance is also recognised, especially where the road network is dense and the traffic is intensive. Besides ecological and conservation considerations, amphibian road kills also present a hazard for motorists when amphibians migrate in large numbers.
Mitigation measures for amphibians have been applied since the 1960s. In Central-Europe the first amphibian-related culvert modification occurred at Parassapuszta, Hungary, in 1986. A number of amphibian-oriented mitigation measures have been made in the region under roads and motorways since then, especially after 1995. The aim of this paper is to describe the main features of these constructions, overview the different designs, and make suggestions for their improvement as well as for future amphibian-oriented mitigation measures in general. A total of 31 road sections were monitored. Besides amphibian tunnels, game passages and game bridges were also investigated. Both the detailed characterisation of the technical solutions and the survey of amphibian populations and habitats were included in the methodology.
The investigation of the tunnel systems showed a great diversity, e.g., in tunnel and fence material, their position in relation to the road, and connections between them. For economical reasons concrete tunnels were the most common. Both circular and square cross-section tunnels were in place. The accessibility of the entrance was a possible problem, especially in areas where erosion is considerable. Plastic mesh and concrete fences were both applied with a height fluctuating between 45 and 70cm. Plastic fences are usually fixed to wooden poles, which need to be checked before the migration period starts. However, the advantage of such fencing is flexibility, which makes possible, e.g., the turning back of its ends to prevent amphibians from getting on the road.
Some systems did not work because certain elements (usually fences) were in bad condition. Elsewhere lack of maintenance reduced the efficiency of mitigation measures. Missing elements should be replaced immediately, even if the amphibian migration period is over, because other animals, e.g., small mammals, also use these systems.
The lowest distance between tunnels is 40m in the region (Kudowa ZdrÛj, Poland). Usually, amphibian tunnels were placed 50-100m from each other, which is an acceptable distance. In case of adequate fencing, game passages and game bridges would also be adequate for the crossing of amphibians as well as reptiles and small mammals, similar to slightly modified existing culverts under high road mortality sections, and there would be a need for such conservation improvements at several sites.
As a result of this work, several recommendations on the maintenance of amphibian tunnels and fences were also developed. Further cooperation among different agencies and organisations was urged, nationally as well as internationally. The improvement of public relation activities on fauna passages also seems to be needed for the effective protection of wildlife on roads.
This Living Planet mp3 is all about amphibious roadside assistance in Germany.
Roadkill is a huge problem for the endangered California Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma californiense).
For more info on these PA toad savers, please visit: www.toaddetour.com
"The rains signal the fact that its time to breed! So when this happens the frogs migrate from where they live their everyday lives to a suitable breeding site, which hopefully still exists. I've seen cases where the traditional ponds have been turned into carparks or shopping malls and all the frogs turn up and say "WTF?" And inevitably die. There is another explanation and that depends upon the size of the frogs – if they are adults then the above explanation is probably true, however if they are metamorps or juveniles then its quite likely this is a mass migration AWAY from the breeding site of newly developed froglets to find a good place to live and the only way they can avoid drying out on the hostile pavements is to travel when it rains. OK – what can be done to save them? People try many things: during rainy days you can get volunteers to help the frogs across the roads, you can put signs up to warn motorists and tell them to be careful, you can close the roads – all these have differing successes depending on manpower, but the best solution is to advocate for some frogs tunnels and drift fences to be installed. Essentially you erect a barrier, which for these species would need to be carefully constructed as peepers can climb very well and bullfrogs can jump very well, and these barriers prevent the frogs from crossing the road and direct them to an underpass where they can cross the road safely (obviously the same needs to happen on the other side so that they don't get squashed coming back)."
Have a look at the SPLAT Project Amphibian Tunnel.
"The Sea to Sky Highway is a death trap, if you're a frog"
Watch this video then learn more about Dave Huth's Toad Detour.
Toadwatch was started in the United Kingdom in 2004 and helps amphibians in the Bowthorpe and Little Melton areas to the west of Norwich. During the migration season - which takes place on warm, wet evenings between February and April - volunteers carry toads and frogs across the road in buckets. Many thousands of animals are saved each year - without this help the local toad populations could become extinct. Volunteers are given basic safety instructions and asked to wear a high visibity vest or jacket when working in the road. The work is too dangerous for young children, as volunteers have to be responsible for their own safety while they are helping the animals.
Frog art by Andi Tenribali Hikman Napacce, 7, USA
Froglife helped to support amazing volunteers all over the UK who rescued a staggering 62,985 toads and helped them to safety in 2012. Sadly, they know that at least 6,984 toads were killed in the UK in 2012 – the actual number is likely to be much higher as there were many sites where no one was there to help or count the toads that didn’t make it. Check this map for the name of your nearest Patrol, and email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Diagram courtesy John Buchanan. This fence would keep the frog from jumping on to the road, which is to the right. The front of the fence is level with the ground. The ground which meets the back of the tunnel angles upward and away from the top, which allows animals which do make it on to the road to retreat and drop down over the fence.
Thanks to Joanna Holland for holding a poster competition at a local school: the winning posters are being displayed in the village to raise awareness of the threats toads face on the local roads.
A true story by Donna Walters:
"Regarding the Western Toad migration that occurs during the late summer/early fall from Summit Lake into the neighbouring forest where thousands of toads hibernate: The problem is that in order for the toads to hibernate they must cross Highway 6, the only route through that part of the West Kootenays through the Selkirk Mountains.
My husband and myself personally witnessed the demise of hundreds of toads within minutes as thousands were coming up on shore from Summit Lake on a rainy fall day a few years ago. There were so many little toads that at first we thought it was small rocks accidentally dumped on the blacktop. We pulled over to investigate what these little dark objects were scattered on the highway only to realise it was hundreds and hundreds of these little toads crossing the road simultaneously. Imagine our horror as we watched countless vehicles and semi's smearing these poor little frogs into the blacktop. We walked down to the lake's edge, carefully watching where we were stepping so we could see them coming up from the water. I have never seen so many toads at once in my life and though we were amazed at the sight and glad to see them in such numbers it was also sickening to watch as vehicles kept passing through their migratory path. I have recently moved into the West Kootanays and would love to help these poor little toads."
Vertebrate Road Mortality Predominantly Impacts Amphibians. Glista et al. 2007
Road deicing salt irreversibly disrupts osmoregulation of salamander egg clutches -- Karraker & Gibbs (Environmental Pollution 2011)
Migration Interrupted - Landscape Architecture Magazine
From the SAVE THE FROGS! Poetry Contest
Frogs -- by Terry Dammery, Age 70, United Kingdom
Along the shaded side lanes
Narrow as a cart
That wound down to borough lake
Their bodies covered the road
Right round the bend they went
From verge to verge
More than you would ever see
In the whole of the rest of your life
So few cars and so many dead
A plague out of Egypt
Lying closer than a footprint
Than the width of a bicycle tyre
More menacing than pavement cracks
Their legs spread like stars
Like the cat in a tom and jerry film
Flattened to the road like prehistoric etchings
Fossils embedded from another age
Something you'll see only once
Like the first day of the Somme
The leaving of Dunkirk
Where not everyone gets to the other side
So many bodies and so few cars
Something you could never cycle past
And never leave behind
Always a child on a bike
trying to make sense of what you saw.
Roads and Toads -- by Freda Jones, 49, South Africa
Softly drizzling rain
falls on the shining tar
the toad is on the move
for breeding grounds afar.
to blink and look around
the leopard toads
approach the roads
which resonate with sound
Quickly moving cars
drive on the darkened roads
some drivers do not care
about the leopard toads.
Too late, the driver swerves a little
too late, the toad begins to jump
too late, the wheels begin to turn
toad's life ends with a thump!
So please, when driving
near our wetlands
think, and slow on down.
The leopard toads are on the move
their lives are worth a crown.
Road sign in Rodeo Valley, Marin Headlands, CA
Frog Art from South Korea
Did you know: The USA is home to 3,981,512 miles of public roads (US Dept. of Transportation 2004)!