The lives of more than 80 toads – plus a handful of frogs and newts – have been saved after a local authority sprang into action.
The ranger team at Lewes District Council responded quickly to save the endangered amphibians after they had become trapped in several roadside drains.
The common toads were searching for a place to spend the winter and had inadvertently fallen into the drains in Lewes.
Knowing that the toads will continue their annual migration, the council officers installed special ‘ladders’ in the drains to help the unwitting creatures make a safe escape from them.
Cllr Isabelle Linington, Cabinet member for Environmental Impact, said: “Common toads are a fabulous species that are sadly becoming increasingly endangered, and we need to protect them.
“The sides of gully pots in drains are smooth and can’t be climbed, so unfortunately toads that fall down there are in danger of dying if they are stuck for too long.
“By taking the simple step of installing these ladders inside the gully pots in popular migratory areas, we are making sure that toads do not get trapped inside.”
The ladders, sourced from the British Herpetological Society, are 90 per cent effective at allowing trapped amphibians to escape, according to an in-depth study.
It is estimated that toad numbers in the UK have fallen by two-thirds in the last 30 years.
One of the reasons for the decline is their use of well-established routes to and from winter resting places which sometimes take them across roads.
The common toad (Bufo bufo) was deemed a ‘Species of Principal Importance in England for the purpose of conserving biodiversity’ under Section 41 of the Natural and Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006. This Act requires all public bodies to have regard for biodiversity conservation when carrying out their work.