Plan: Kids with guns to massacre cane toads
The march of the world’s biggest toad across Australia has caused panic among politicians whose proposed solution to the menace includes encouraging schoolchildren to shoot them with an air rifle to claim a bounty.
After colonising the north, two cane toads were found in Alice Springs last week, in the heart of the Outback, prompting alarm among MPs, some of whom suggested offering a cash reward for each toad killed.
Since 102 of the toads were brought in from Hawaii more than 80 years ago in a misguided attempt to control beetles threatening sugar cane plantations they have multiplied into millions and gained ground across the country. The toads, which can grow up to 38cm long, emit a poison that kills most predators including lizards, snakes and marsupials, greatly reducing the number of native animals.
To halt their spread Bob Katter, a populist Queensland senator, wants the government to offer children 40 cents for every cane toad they shoot with an air rifle.
‘‘It’ll give a bit of fun for our kids and a bit of pocket money for them as well,’’ he said.
Katter believes that his plan would be more efficient than traditional measures in which thousands of volunteers set out each night and bludgeon or suffocate the toads. ‘‘Running around with golf clubs and spades, plastic bags and suffocating and pouring stuff on them – it’s just not working,’’ Katter said. ‘‘Up close it’s just squeeze the trigger. End of story.’’
His toad bounty trumps a similar proposal put forward by Pauline Hanson, founder and leader of the One Nation Party, who has called for a 10c toad bounty to be paid by the government for every live animal caught and handed in. Under her plan, the captured animals would then be killed by the state by freezing them to death.
She has written to Scott Morrison, the prime minister, and asked for government funding for a three-month trial.
Experts are doubtful that either plan will work. David Smerdon, an economist at the University of Queensland, writing in The Conversation, said that the plans could cause what economists know as the cobra effect, a phenomenon that takes its came from an anecdote relating to a cash-for cobras scheme said to have been introduced in British colonial India to reduce numbers of the dangerous snakes. People soon realised that they could breed the cobras, kill them and then claim the bounty. – The Times
Queensland senator Bob Katter
Cane toads emit a poison that kills most predators including lizards, snakes and marsupials.