||02-17-2009 03:25 PM
Toads in space (sorta)
Hundreds of "toad crossings" across the UK have been mapped using up-to-the-minute satellite technology in a bid to cut the number killed by motorists, a conservation charity said. Froglife
, which helps the conservation of amphibians and reptiles, has mapped 700 crossings using a specially-developed Google Earth application. It is hoped that satellite map will help conservationists and volunteers find out more about where amphibians are killed on roads on their migration to breeding ponds in spring.
The new software will help members of the public find out where frogs and toads cross local roads, as well as whether a "crossing" is active. They will also be able to use it to find out where they can help with volunteer "toad patrols", as well as updating Froglife's records and reporting new toad crossings.
Conservationists at Froglife also hope that the Google Earth application will be useful for the planning sector, and will allow highways officials to find out more about amphibian populations around the UK's roads. Toad numbers have declined in many areas of England, thought to be due to the effect of road traffic during the breeding season and loss of breeding ponds. It is also thought the common toad, which was listed as a threatened species in 2007, suffers dangers of high kerbs which steer them towards drains where they are trapped and die.
Jules Howard, from Froglife, said: "Google Earth software is allowing wildlife experts to use new creative ways to communicate important conservation issues to an increasingly techno-savvy public. "We're delighted that more people can get involved in the Toads on Roads campaign by using this free software."