Fast-mov­ing cane toads pose risk

Pilbara News - - News - Mitchell Woodcock and Ali­cia Per­era

Cane toads are head­ing south at a rapid rate, with the Pil­bara at im­mi­nent risk this wet sea­son, ac­cord­ing to an ex­pert.

Kim­ber­ley Toad Busters founder and pres­i­dent Lee Scott-Virtue be­lieves the in­fes­ta­tion will hit the Pil­bara dur­ing this wet sea­son and it will soon be­come clear as to how long it will take un­til it hits the metropoli­tan area.

Ms Scott-Virtue has been part of the fight against cane toads since 2004 and was part of the force fight­ing them when they crossed into the Kim­ber­ley in 2009.

“Peo­ple have been find­ing toads in un­usual lo­ca­tions. There is no doubt once we hit the wet sea­son prop­erly, toads will move quickly,” she said.

“I can as­sure you they will pop­u­late the whole of Aus­tralia one day. The toads are mov­ing rapidly through the Lake Gre­gory sys­tem.

“Perth may as well start pre­par­ing for the cane toads in­va­sion.”

Cane toads were in­tro­duced to Queens­land from Hawaii in 1935 to erad­i­cate bee­tles that were de­stroy­ing the su­gar cane crops.

They are pro­lific breed­ers all year round and have spread across north­ern Aus­tralia.

Greens Min­ing and Pas­toral MLC Robin Chap­ple agreed there was a pos­si­bil­ity the toads could reach the Pil­bara in com­ing months.

“They’re not in Derby yet but I wouldn’t be sur­prised if we didn’t see them by the end of this wet sea­son (there). They’re really quite pro­lific,” he said. “They over­pop­u­late an area. . . in a short space of time, and once you get to that vol­ume they have to move.

“They can travel 3km a day and will ac­tu­ally go across dry coun­try to try and find an­other source of wa­ter.”

In Novem­ber the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on the En­vi­ron­ment and En­ergy an­nounced a pub­lic in­quiry to un­der­stand how well con­trol mea­sures have worked in the fight against the spread of the de­struc­tive pests, and whether other new con­trols should be im­ple­mented.

Sub­mis­sions to the in­quiry are open un­til the end of the month and must ad­dress the ef­fec­tive­ness of con­trol mea­sures to limit the spread of cane toads in Aus­tralia and ad­di­tional sup­port for cane toad pop­u­la­tion con­trol mea­sures.

Pub­lic hear­ings will be held in Can­berra this Fe­bru­ary.

Mem­ber of Du­rack and Min­is­ter for the En­vi­ron­ment Melissa Price also ex­pressed con­cerns about their move­ment.

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