The spread of the toad
Cane toads were introduced into Australia in 1935 in an attempt
to control pest beetles in the sugar cane industry. They were unsuccessful
in their control efforts, but very successful at invading the ecosystems
of Australia’s north. Cane toads were originally released
in Gordonvale in Queensland, but have spread west and south to now
cover 1/3 of Australia.
Ecologists warn that, unless stopped, cane toads will colonise
Perth. They may even infest areas as far south as Margaret River
more on the spread of toads .....
Map courtesy of DEC, KTB and The Australian Geographic Magazine
Large image (870 kb jpg) here.
What is being done?
Over the past 25 years, there has been a lot of effort and both
Federal and State Government’s funding poured into research
for a biological solution to control the cane toad. Some ideas have
included using a virus to interfere with the metamorphosis process,
the introduction of sterile males into the population, using sex
pheromones to attract toads and lure them into a trap, and using
a lung parasite to weaken the population. Despite scientists’
best efforts, an answer has not been found.
Community groups across Australia have also put a huge amount of
effort into controlling toads using manual methods such as hand
collection, trapping and fencing (see The
Great Toad Muster). Whilst this effort has played an important
educative role in the community, it also hasn’t managed to
eradicate toads in Australia. The efforts of the Stop the Toad Foundation,
however, have been responsible for a breakthrough in the manual
control of toads.
the past five years, The Stop the Toad Foundation (with the help
of Frogwatch NT) has designed and tested a tool for the manual control
of cane toads; exclusion fences. These fences are designed to keep
cane toads out of an area, but allow other native animals to pass
through. They are also cost effective, easy to erect and offer a
practical solution to keeping toads out of specific areas. The first
ever permanent cane toad fence has been erected at Emma
Gorge on El Questro Wilderness Park in 2011 in conjunction with
Australian Geographic. It will be monitored for the next few years
to determine its success and the biodiversity inside and outside
the fence once toads arrive.
STTF's fencing strategy in action
A biological or genetic solution to cane toads may still be 10-20
years away. Until that time, STTF will be pro-active and help keep
unique wildlife areas cane toad free!
Using fences to control cane toads - a
Using fences to control cane toads - the
science behind it (645 kb pdf in new window)
Can they be stopped?
We may not be able to stop toads from moving further west into
WA and south into NSW, but we can keep them out of specific areas
using exclusion fences.
you already have a fence surrounding your property, it is easy to
make it toad proof to protect your pets and native wildlife. Smaller
fences can also be used within your property to keep toads out of
specific areas such as swimming pools and BBQ areas
to cane toad proof your backyard (809kb pdf in new window)
What about native wildlife?
What else can I do to help?