There are no toad screens at Perreveld

For the first time in more than 20 years, there are no toad screens on the side of the road in Berreveld. These were traditionally placed to prevent toads, frogs and salamanders from crossing the street. Cattle are collected in dugout buckets and brought safely to the other side of the road in the morning and evening by volunteers from Naturbund in the direction of the breeding pond.

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Amphibian migration is an annual event in which amphibians migrate from their winter home to water to breed. This trek usually takes place from February to April and begins with perfect weather conditions. A combination of temperature (at least 8°C) and humidity (at least 75%, but preferably 90%) are decisive.

numbers

  • In 2001, 134 toads were removed from buckets dug by municipal workers and brought to safety on the other side. 70 toads died in traffic jam.
  • A year later, the number of transferred animals increased to 348, but the number of victims increased to 136. The number of screens installed increased significantly the following year. This reduced the number of victims to 45 animals and 244 transplanted animals.
  • In Opwijk’s ‘best year’ 2007, no fewer than 753 animals were safely transferred to Berreveld, and we counted only 35 victims.
  • In all subsequent years, with the exceptions of 2017 and 2018 (119 and 219 animals respectively), the number of translocated animals was below 100, but since 2019 these numbers have fallen sharply again with the last 2 translocations of 22 (2021) and 12. ! ) (2022) Animals. Also, starting in 2019, we don’t count more than 5 victims per year. To be clear: the common toad always makes up the lion’s share of more than 90% of these figures.
  • This year it was decided to abandon the more labor-intensive approach of screens and buckets and switch to a ‘pick-up operation’. Once a toad meteorologist predicts a suitable evening, volunteers head to the site, picking up and crossing animals along the way.

Research

The exact reason for these sharply reduced figures is still uncertain at present. From surrounding countries (Netherlands, United Kingdom, Switzerland) there are alarming reports of severe declines in toad populations. In Flanders, there are reports that mainly the toad population has been strongly reduced. I don’t know how big the problem is and what the causes are.

Researchers at the University of Ghent, together with Natuurpunt, want to map the severity of the decline and investigate the cause (or causes) of the decline in order to formulate recommendations in the hope of turning the tide.

Thanks to Marc De Maegdt – Natuurpunt IJsvogel Opwijk

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