Every year, the end of February marks the beginning of a dangerous epic among amphibians. In Gap, in the Hautes-Alpes, millions of toads leave the forests where they spent the winter to return to the wetlands where they were born. Purpose of this migration: to reproduce. Their route is not without risk, as these animals have to cross the department 19 and thus expose themselves to the wheels of motorists. The League for the Protection of Birds (LPO) is calling for volunteers to help them survive.
The migration of amphibians occurs every year in the months of February and March. Toads, frogs, salamanders and salamanders leave their winter home to join the pools and ponds where they were born, with the aim of in turn to reproduce. In the country of Gapençais, in the Hautes-Alpes, this means that these amphibians are at risk of crossing the departmental 19. A dangerous route where some die crushed under the wheels of cars. To prevent this carnage, the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO) has launched rescue operations, as reported France 3 Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur†
A device that has already saved 1,300 toads
In some cities in France, the association for the protection of the environment helps toads by placing nets along the roads. The amphibians walk past the nets as they travel, eventually falling into buckets installed by the volunteers. They pick them up and transport them to the arrival zones before releasing them. In Gap, the roads do not allow this type of installation: “We have also thought of installing toads or nets here, but that is not possible for the time being”explains Eliane Dupland, coordinator of the local LPO group, interviewed by France 3†
From that moment on, the association started another rescue project. She mobilizes volunteers to collect the amphibians and transport them in teams of two across the departmental road. The affected road section extends for almost 2 km and the operation can take 2 to 3 weeks. The LPO has already helped 1,300 animals in recent years thanks to this device, reports France 3† In 2022, the association wants to renew its operation and is launching a call for volunteers for the approaching migration period.
Every year, Eliane and her colleagues ask for a prefectural order to limit the speed on this road during the migration. The competition also intervenes in schools to make children aware of animal conservation and to give them fun lessons so that they better understand who amphibians are and how they reproduce.
If you would like to contribute to these rescues, please contact the local volunteer group Pays Gapençais for more information.
In addition to this action, the LPO requests a prefectural decree every year to limit the speed of traffic on Department 19 at the time of the migratory flows. Awareness campaigns are also being carried out in schools to inform children about amphibian reproduction and their necessary protection.
These amphibian conservation actions are essential. Indeed, the disappearance of amphibians could lead to a significant natural imbalance, due to their simultaneous role as predator and prey in the food chain, the LPO indicates. It is therefore essential to protect them in order to preserve biodiversity.
In recent years, more than 500 volunteers have joined forces with the LPO, at least twenty of them for the Gap site. If you can, do your part to keep these amphibians crossing safely.