Tunnel of love

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ONE of the signs of spring in England is an increase in toad traffic as the little amphibians wend their nocturnal way to their breeding ponds. Unfortunately, the toads must cross highways, some heavily traveled, to get to ponds from their dry winter homes. Encounters between toads and tires end badly for the toads, and can be a hazard for motorists as well. And so after a public-awareness campaign by the Fauna and Flora Society of Britain in the past few years, some 250 people have enlisted as crossing guards to get the toads safely to their ponds during the spring mating season. The guards try to stay on duty at least until after the pubs close, and it can be demanding work.

But now a special tunnel has been opened under the Henley roadway in Hambleden, in southern England. Some six inches wide at its mouth, the tunnel is the first of a planned chain of tunnels to make for safer transit for toads. It sounds like a good example of appropriate-scale engineering technology; let's hope the toads catch on quickly to where the new safe crossings are.

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