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Natterjack Toad

The natterjack toad is a European Protected Species (EPS). It is against the law to damage or destroy its breeding site or resting place (pond or terrestrial habitat), or deliberately to capture, kill, injure or disturb a natterjack

The natterjack is the rarest Welsh amphibian. It is restricted to just a few colonies on the coastal dune systems of northeast Wales. It is a small toad, only 6 or 7cm long, with a distinctive yellow stripe down its spine. It lays its spawn in strings in shallow dune ponds, where toadlets quickly develop and move out into the surrounding dunes.

This page cannot cover all aspects of the law or natterjack ecology, but is an introduction to show how you can help to protect the species.

Legislation

The natterjack is protected under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017, known as the ‘Habitats Regulations’, because it has declined throughout Europe in recent decades.

Under the Habitats Regulations, it is an offence if you:

  • Deliberately capture, injure or kill any wild animal of an EPS,
  • Deliberately disturb wild animals of any such species,
  • Deliberately take or destroy the eggs of such an animal, or
  • Damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place of such an animal

Disturbance is defined as that which is likely:

1. to impair their ability –

  • to survive, to breed or reproduce, or to rear or nurture their young, or
  • in the case of animals of a hibernating or migratory species, to hibernate or migrate; or

2. to affect significantly the local distribution or abundance of the species to which they belong.

Defra and the Welsh Government will publish a joint guidance document on the interpretation of the offences relating to disturbance, and to damage and destruction of breeding sites and resting places.

There are other offences relating to possession, transport and sale.

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981(as amended) (W&CA) it is illegal to:

  • Intentionally or recklessly disturb any natterjack toad while it is occupying a structure or place which it uses for shelter or protection, 9(4)(b)
  • Intentionally or recklessly obstructs access to any structure or place used by natterjack toads for shelter or protection, 9(4)(c)
  • Sell, offer or expose for sale any natterjack toad, 9(5)

It is, however, legal for you to tend a disabled natterjack with the intention of releasing it, or to kill one that cannot recover, as long as the injury was not a result of your unlawful act (Habitat Regulations 44(2); W&CA 10(3)(a)(b)).

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) issues licences under Regulation 55 of the Habitats Regulations to allow you to work within the law. You might need a licence to undertake dune management, scrub clearance or a development, for example. See ‘Natterjack Toad Licensing’ and ‘Do I need a European Protected Species Licence?’ for more information.

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