Quick and clever thinking by Northern Beaches resident Louise Doherty will help the ongoing battle against the invasion of cane toads into the region.
It follows government alerts a month ago that the species was being increasingly detected in Sydney, North Coast, South Coast and North West regions.
The Narraweena resident found the suspicious looking amphibian in her driveway earlier this week during an evening walk with her dog.
“I managed to trap it in a large plastic container and then posted to Facebook. I was concerned that it might be a cane toad but hadn’t thought they were this far south,” she told Manly Observer.
“Most people thought that it was [a cane toad] and I received lots of advice telling me to kill it. I didn’t want to as I remained optimistic that it was a native toad.
“I was also aware that I should report it if it was a cane toad which I did through the Department of Primary Industries (DPI).
Louise was impressed by how quickly DPI responded (at 10pm) and she was told to keep it secure overnight, then in the morning take it to a vet which the Department had made arrangements with.
She said the intention was to euthanise the toad and study it to work out its gender and, if female, find out if it had spawned recently, signalling potential ecological disaster.
Thankfully, it was later discovered to be male which most likely hitched a ride in a truck from up North, but they are studying to see if it had mated recently.
Cane toads were deliberately introduced from Hawaii to Australia in 1935 to control scarab beetles that were sugar cane pests.
Intentional cane toad releases occurred in northern Queensland and northern NSW however the species continues to spread and represent a huge risk to our ecosystems.
The cane toad is tough and adaptable as well as being poisonous throughout its life cycle. It has few predators in Australia, which is bad news for competing native amphibians, and it may be responsible for the population decline of the few snakes and other species that do prey on it.
Why we have to euthanise them
According to DPI they:
- poison pets and injure humans with their toxins
- poison many native animals whose diet includes frogs, tadpoles and frogs’ eggs
- eat large numbers of honey bees, creating a management problem for bee-keepers
- prey on native fauna
- compete for food with vertebrate insectivores such as small skinks
- may carry diseases that are can be transmitted to native frogs and fishes.
How to spot them
DPI provides the following advice if you think you spot a cane toad
- Don’t harm it – it might actually be a native frog
- Wear protective clothing such as disposable gloves, glasses, long sleeves and eye protection before touching it
- Watch out for poison. When stressed, cane toads can ooze and sometimes squirt poison from glands
behind the head
- If you can do so safely, keep it in a well-ventilated container with a little water in a cool location while we determine the species
- Take a photo (if you can)
- Record your location
- Report the detection
How to report one?