7000 toads caught in an­nual roundup

Townsville Bulletin - - Inside Today - by Ryan Mathe­son ryan. mathe­son@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

TOWNSVILLE’S wildlife war­riors stepped out in force over the week­end to do battle with one of North Queens­land’s most iconic pests.

More t han 7000 t oads, weigh­ing in at a com­bined to­tal of about 600kg, were handed over at yes­ter­day’s Toad Day Out, stomping last year’s Townsville to­tal of 391kg.

Townsville City Coun­cil En­vi­ron­men­tal and Sus­tain­abil­ity com­mit­tee chair­man Cr Vern Veitch said this year’s wet sea­son had pro­duced ideal con­di­tions for catch­ing the crit­ters.

‘‘ Par­tic­i­pant num­bers are down this year but the in­di­vid­u­als’ hauls are con­tin­u­ing to in­crease which is won­der­ful to see,’’ he said.

‘‘ The pro­ject is about get­ting the kids do­ing some­thing ac­tive while in­still­ing an en­vi­ron­men­tal ethic into our younger gen­er­a­tion.

‘‘ It’s also re­ally im­por­tant we don’t al­low the an­i­mals to be tor­tured or stressed any more than they need and the day pro­vides a per­fect way to do that.’’

Bud­ding Blue­wa­ter en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist Bryden Ganly was handed the top gong for Townsville’s heav­i­est toad which weighted in at a whop­ping 406g.

The eight-year-old nick­named the beast ‘‘ Jack­pot’’ af­ter tam­ing the toad dur­ing a late-night pa­trol of his neigh­bour­hood on Satur­day.

The young­ster stored his prize catch overnight in a pic­nic bas­ket con­tain­ing about 240 other toads he coll ected f r om t he s ur- round­ing area. Bryden said the catch was al­most too good to be true.

‘‘ When I saw him com­ing to­wards me I knew I had hit the jack­pot,’’ he said.

‘‘ He was kick­ing a lit­tle bit when I got my hands on him but I wasn’t go­ing to let this one go.’’

Bryden’s mother, Kris­tel, said the young­ster was keen to be an en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist.

‘‘ He had an ab­so­lute blast be­ing able to get out there and dive around like Steve Ir­win,’’ she said.

‘‘ We were us­ing nets last year but it was tak­ing up too much time so he pre­ferred the hands-on ap­proach this year.

‘‘ His heroes are peo­ple like Ranger Dan and Bear Grylls so I wouldn’t be sur­prised if he con­tin­ues down that track in the fu­ture.’’

The toads are set to be hu­manely euthanised with car­bon diox­ide be­fore be­com­ing learn­ing aids for Townsville’s fu­ture zo­ol­o­gists at James Cook Univer­sity.

Hands On Wildlife owner ranger Dan Bam­blett said the an­nual event pro­vided a host of ben­e­fits.

‘‘ Any in­for­ma­tion we can get into de­creas­ing toad num­bers across Aus­tralia is go­ing to be a huge help,’’ he said. ‘‘ Re­searchers have dis­cov­ered so many things in the past two years that we knew noth­ing about s o these types of projects are very im­por­tant.

‘‘ A lot of the kids here will go home to­day and keep track on the en­vi­ron­ment around them so it’s a great way for them to con­tinue to learn.’’

The Rains fam­ily were the top toad­busters again af­ter al­most tripling last year’s to­tal and weigh­ing in 1820 toads. MON­STER: Bryden Ganly, 8, from Blue­wa­ter took out the prize for the l argest toad, weigh­ing in at 406g

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