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PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Spring means breeding season for toads and, in Philadelphia, that means closing off a city street so the tiny creatures are safe from traffic as they seek their mates.
Each year, volunteers organize the Toad Detour in the city's Roxborough neighborhood, where American toads leave the woodlands of the 350-acre Schuylkill Center to breed across the road at an old reservoir.
The toads tend to enjoy wet weather with temperatures above 65 degrees, so when those evenings arrive, organizer Lisa Levinson sends out an email to some 150 volunteers to help the toads cross the road.
The breeding season stretches about a month, during which time traffic is diverted from the area and the street is closed off with barricades, courtesy of a permit from city officials.
Levinson launched the effort, now in its third year, after realizing what she thought were leaves were actually hopping toads on the street.
"Cars were driving right over them," she said.
Levinson and volunteers now scoop up the toads and place them on an embankment on the far side of the road.
"It feels great," she said. "It's almost a divine feeling that you know that you are helping."
Last year, the effort saved about 2,000 toads from traffic, according to its website www.toaddetour.com.
Reporting by Dave Warner, editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Greg McCune