Toads on the road: Street closure offers amphibians safe passage in Estonia

A busy road in the Estonian capital of Tallinn will be closed for the month of April not for construction, but for frogs and toads. Each spring, the area around the road becomes a popular breeding ground for toads and frogs, so the city has closed the road to protect these vulnerable species as they make their journey across the roadway. 

In previous years, volunteers had helped safely shepherd thousands of amphibians across the road, saving an estimated 2,000 last year alone. With the pandemic limiting volunteer access, the city made the decision to close the road altogether. 

The warmth of the road makes toads and frogs sleepy and slow, so they’re particularly prone to getting stuck. As many as 300 can be found on its surface at a given time. 

“The frogs were here before the road,” Kristel Saarm, an Estonian National Fund volunteer, told Reuters. “Now the ponds where they breed are on one side of the road and their wintering place is on the other. So they are forced to cross.”

The city is building an underground tunnel to eliminate this issue in the future, but for now, the lack of cars will offer them safe passage. 

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