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Frogs on the move: Natuurpunt asks drivers to slow down
Environmental organisation Natuurpunt is asking drivers on Flanders’ provincial roads to be extra careful this week, especially at night. The milder temperatures are waking up the region’s frogs, who are now making their annual migration to water.
Frogs, as well as salamanders, hibernate in the winter and become active again in late February or early March. They then make the trek from their inland winter hibernation holes to the nearest pond or stream in order to find a mate and lay eggs.
This is an annual migration that Natuurpunt watches very carefully because many of the frogs must cross busy roads in order to get to water. Because of the number of amphibians that don’t make it, the organisation even calls on volunteers to help them make the trek safely.
Natuurpunt sets up screens that the frogs have trouble getting over (pictured) and so follow them around, until they land in buckets buried in the ground. Volunteers go out at night with torches to collect the frogs and carry them to safety across roads, closer to ponds and streams.
Last year the organisation “helped” 173,000 amphibians get to water. On very busy crossings, Natuurpunt sets up signs to warn motorists, who are asked to travel no more than 30km per hour along that stretch of road.
Even if a driver doesn’t kill a frog or other amphibian, there is a suction effect from traffic, explains Dominque Verbelen of Natuurpunt. “Passing traffic causes displaces the air in such a way that amphibians get sucked under the cars and land back on the road a bit stunned,” he says. “Then they get hit by the next car.”
Last year, nearly 10,500 amphibians were found dead on and beside Flanders’ roads.