Town councillors are weighing up their options to help protect hundreds of amphibians crossing a busy road to migrate to their traditional breeding ponds.

Scores of amphibians, including toads, frogs and newts, are squashed each year by passing vehicles while hopping and leaping across Smallbrook Road to reach the Smallbrook Meadows Nature Reserve next to the River Wylye on the edge of Warminster.

Members of the Sustainable Warminster conservation group want the town council to ask Wiltshire Council to close part of the road to traffic for a month from February 14 to March 13 2025 during the amphibians' peak breeding season.

They say there has been a rapid decline in the toad population across the UK, especially among females.

Last year, the toad patrollers recorded 55 dead female toads as well as 155 dead males, 38 dead frogs and 32 dead newts.

But Cllr Steve Jeffries, Finance and Audit/Planning Advisory Committee (North), said the road closure could cost £5,000 and a further £10-£12,000 for signs and diversions.

He added: “There is no doubt something needs to be done to help protect the toads.

“However, we do have time to look at options, alternative proposals, and discuss with other key stakeholders. We need to look at the cost in detail and see exactly what the liability is.

“I think we need more information, so the best decision can be made for the toads and for Warminster Town Council.”

Warminster town councillors resolved at their full council meeting on Monday, January 15 to seek further information and explore possible alternatives before pursuing a potential road closure from Smallbrook Lane car park to the junction with Upper Marsh Road and Henfords Marsh.

The councillors considered the results of an informal public consultation and petition for a potential 24 hours-a day road closure during toad migration season.

Results from the public consultation showed that 80 per cent of people who responded wanted to see the road closed.

Councillors decided to defer asking Wiltshire Council to implement the road closure and investigate further options such as a toad fence.

Stakeholders include Wiltshire Wildlife Trust which manages the nature reserve, and Sustainable Warminster some of whose members run the Smallbrook Toad Patrol.

They will also investigate funding sources, with results to be discussed at the next full council meeting on Monday, March 25.

Town councillors do not have the power to introduce a road closure but can submit a request to Wiltshire Council which would make the final decision of whether to proceed with the road closure.

Wiltshire Council would charge around £5,000 to investigate the potential road closure and then there would be an annual cost of closing the road, if approved.

One of the options being considered is to install a plastic fence alongside the road with gaps that would direct the toads and frogs into buckets.

However, Sustainable Warminster members say the only option capable of protecting the amphibians is to close the road.

Harriet James, of Smallbrook Toad Patrol Group and Sustainable Warminster, said: “If a female toad falls into a bucket, the male toads can come piling in and [the females] drown because they get overwhelmed by male toads.

"If the temperature changes then the toads don't always move. If it was below freezing and if they were stuck in the buckets then they could actually die."

The fence would not cover the whole route, which could result in toads getting killed anyway, she said.

Ms James said Sustainable Warminster would be prepared to look for grant funding so that the total cost of closing the road wouldn't fall on the taxpayer.