A RUNNING club is acting to help ensure migrating toads are not accidentally killed during races on the moor above Haworth.

Wharfedale Harriers has put measures in place to avoid fell runners trampling on the amphibians during this year’s season of the popular Bunny Runs.

The races on Penistone Hill are being held earlier and the route has changed so runners keep away from a quarry lake that attracts the toads for spawning.

The club acted in advance of its 2020 race season after being approached about the potential problem by Sue Patchett of Riddlesden Toad Patrol.

She had heard from a local walker that in the spring of 2018 “literally hundreds” of dead and dying toads were seen on the moors, apparently trampled. Her research showed that Bunny Runs could clash with the optimum time for the toads’ evening journeys

She this week welcomed the runners’ detour, but said was not enough because toads would spread out across the moor.

She added: “They will still crawl on paths and the male toads will sit stationary in the open looking out for females approaching. They’ll be sitting ducks for 180 pairs of feet racing towards them.”  

Wharfedale Harriers chairman Nick Charlesworth said the club’s race committee had agreed to change the route, and runners would be asked to watch for toads.

He said: “The route is now above the lake rather than down by the water. I go round the whole course every time, and there are a few guys out during the race. None of us have ever seen any toads.”

Bradford Council said it had met with Toad Patrol and Harriers representatives to discuss solutions.

A spokesman said “These races have run for many years. The council has granted permission for the evening fell runs on condition they are re-routed away from the main toad migration routes.

The council has suggested the runners work with Toad Patrol volunteers to monitor the toads’ movements and ensure maximum protection.

A spokesman added: “We will continue to assess the situation and work with local groups to ensure the biodiversity of the moors is protected whilst allowing people to enjoy the moor for health and recreation.”

This year’s Bunny Runs will begin at 7pm on April 7, 14 and 21.Visit wharfedaleharriers.co.uk or call race contact Steve Milner on 07912 604758.