The great toad massacre

It’s exactly what happened last year. In the autumn, frogs and/ or toads move about. I suspect they do it at night, and I’m not sure which sort of amphibian it is. All I see are the splattered corpses on the road. There’s a horrible irony to finding them on the last few miles down to the famous wildfowl and wetland centre. The odds are some have been killed by people who came out to see the wildlife.
The trouble with cars, is that doing fifty miles an hour down a darkened lane, you aren’t going to see a frog crossing the road, much less have time to avoid it. That’s assuming you’d care to bother in the first place. Our amphibian populations are in decline. If the number of corpses I’ve seen in the last week are anything to go by, road deaths must be a contributing factor.
Of course there’s a thirty mile and hour limit on this road, but a lot of people don’t respect it. Especially not on the pub run at night. There are always horses, joggers, dog walkers, cyclists and children in the lanes round here, even after dark and there are always stupid, mindless idiots who drive at full tilt. And there are also always corpses. Birds, small mammals, larger mammals, pet cats, I found a grass snake once, it’s head crushed by a passing vehicle. One of the things about being a cyclist is that you get to see the carnage. We stop for anything and everything. I’ve rescued frogs from the road, worms, caterpillars, beetles. I have accidentally killed a couple of snails, I admit, but the death toll created by cycling is fairly low. Up on the main road, someone did get a horse a couple of years ago, the poor animal so badly wounded that it had to be put down, while the distraught child rider had to be taken away in an ambulance.
All for the sake of getting there a bit sooner, or for the dubious pleasure of speed.
We kill a lot of people this way too, pedestrians, cyclists, children.
There is a widely held idea that guns don’t kill people. People kill people. Cars don’t kill people and wildlife. People driving cars kill people, and wildlife. I’d like universal recognition that cars are bloody dangerous things that can and do kill people every day. And that kill birds, mammals, amphibians and insects in horrendous numbers. Speed makes it worse. Speed gives you less time to notice, less time to avoid, it gives the creature itself less time to get out of the way, human creatures included. The higher your speed, the more damage you are likely to do when you hit. And when you hit something of flesh and blood, that damage is immediate, painful, and quite possibly lethal. Cars are killing machines. They need treating like dangerous killing machines, not like toys.
I don’t drive. I simply could not face the responsibility of directing something so phenomenally dangerous. But killing things with cars is normal, and people just shrug it off. The toads, on the other hand, have no shrugging options at all. They aren’t going anywhere.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

2 responses to “The great toad massacre

  • Helen Wood

    Around these parts, the victims tend to be badgers and rabbits. I don’t drive myself, but my sister does and when a cat appeared in the road, she ignored all she had been told about animals on the road and avoided it. We had an accident in which we both suffered minor injuries, but we were very glad that we hadn’t killed the cat. We were even more happy about that when the first of a large group of locals who came out to help us turned out to be the cat’s owner. Our injuries healed. The guilt if we had killed the cat would have haunted us both forever.

  • Alex Jones

    Vehicles are probably the main killers of wildlife in UK. There may be a good side to when oil runs out.

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