Wold Ecology

Great Crested Newt Surveys

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The Great Crested Newt is protected under European and British legislation. In summary, an offence is committed if a person deliberately disturbs, captures, injures or kills any Great Crested Newt, or takes or destroys the eggs. It is also an offence to damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place of a Great Crested Newt.

Presence and absence surveys require up to six visits during the GCN breeding season – mid-March to mid-June. This will determine whether the ponds within 500 metres of the study area are occupied by Great Crested Newts.

Field survey methodologies employed include:

  • Egg Search – involves the systematic searching of suitable vegetation for the presence of GCN egg wraps and is often a very effective method for detecting Great Crested Newt presence.
  • Bottle Trapping – involves setting bottle traps (normally made from 2 litre plastic bottles) around the pond margin, and leaving the traps set overnight.
  • Torchlight Search – the perimeter of each pond is walked after dark and illuminated with a powerful torch. In clear ponds, this can be a simple and very effective way of detecting newts.
  • Netting – Using a long-handled dip-net, Great Crested Newts can be captured by sampling the area around the pond edge.

At least three of the four field survey methods are undertaken during each visit. Four visits are required to determine the presence/absence of Great Crested Newts, with at least three of these visits occurring between mid-April and mid-May.

The likely presence of Great Crested Newts in ponds can be predicted by examining aquatic habitat features. This data is used to calculate a habitat suitability index (HSI). The HSI is represented by a number from 0 to 1; the higher the number, the more likely the pond is to be occupied by Great Crested Newts.


Under the Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, (Schedule 2 as a European protected species) the intentional killing of newts, damage or destruction of a breeding site or resting place and intentional/reckless damage to or obstruction of a place used for shelter or protection is prohibited.  In addition, under Schedule 5 (section 9) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), the intentional killing, injuring or taking, or disturbance of great crested newts whilst occupying a place used for shelter or protection and the destruction of these places is prohibited. It is also Listed in Appendix II of the Bern Convention, Annexes II and IV of the EC Habitats Directive.