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Golf: Tiger looks out for toad in the hole; COUNTDOWN TO THE OPEN AT HOYLAKE AS SCOT AIMS TO BAG THE BIG PRIZE.

Byline: By JIM O'BRIEN

TIGER WOODS is to face a bizarre new hazard when he plays in the The Open next week - a pounds 5,000 fine for touching a toad!

Golfers and spectators at Hoylake's Royal Liverpool Golf Club are to be handed leaflets warning them not to interfere with the rare natterjack toads that inhabit the sand dunes alongside the links.

Natterjacks are the rarest amphibian in the country and had been wiped-out at Hoylake until they were reintroduced in the 1990s.

The conservation scheme has proved such a success that the number of natterjacks at The Wirral course has grown to more than 6,000.

But there are fears the 200,0000 pairs of trampling feet that are expected during the four-day Open could produce a crop of toad casualties. It means the world's top golfers - including defending champion and world No.1 Woods - and the army of spectators descending on Hoylake must tread carefully or risk stiff fines.

Under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act, anyone treading or otherwise harming or interfering with the Natterjacks or their habitat risks a fine of up to pounds 5,000.

Council officials will hand out 'Toad Alert' leaflets to players and fans at the tournament, which starts next Thursday.

Teams of rangers patrol the beach and dunes to enforce protection of the toads. John Pugh, a volunteer warden, said "This can be a very dangerous time for the natterjack toads.

"The dunes are a sensitive habitat and the public must be aware that they should not harm or interfere with the toads."


UNUSUAL GREENS! The toads' HUNGRY: Woods is defending crown
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 13, 2006
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