Sessional Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development Written Submissions Received Volume 2 Issues associated with the progressive entry into the Northern Territory of Cane Toads October 2003
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Power & Water Corporation Written Submissions Cane Toad Inquiry Report Volume 2 128 bodies and well managed drinking water supplies, but more an issue in open boreholes and watering troughs. Information in this report has been gathered through literature reviews and personal communication with personnel from Cairns Water, Environment Australia and James Cook University (see Appendix 1). CANE TOADS: BACKGROUND Cane toads (Bufo marinus), also known as American toads or giant toads are native to North, Central and South America. They were introduced into Australia in the 1930's to control the grey-back cane beetle and the frenchies beetle that were affecting the cane sugar industry (Speare, 1997). Cane toads were unsuccessful in controlling grey-back cane and Frenchies beetle numbers; instead their capacity to breed excessively resulted in an uncontrolled spread of these amphibians throughout coastal Queensland, coastal northern New South Wales and coastal Northern Territory. Figure 1 illustrates areas in Australia effected by cane toads. As a result, cane toads have emerged as a pest in Australia endangering native wildlife and a nuisance to humans. Figure 1: Cane Toad Distribution in 2002 Source: Cameron, 2002 Cane toads are commonly found in coastal heaths, rainforests and mangroves and rely on wetlands, billabongs, irrigation canals and livestock watering dams in dry periods (Cameron, 2002). Cane toads secrete a poisonous liquid from glands behind each ear when handled or attacked. This liquid contains bufotoxin, which is a mixture of poisonous liquids and is primarily cardio-active (Vanderduys & Wilson, undated). This toxin is also present in the bones, muscles, organs, eggs and tadpoles of the cane toad (Speare, 1997). Australian native fauna and domestic pets have been killed by eating or mouthing cane toads. The toxin is also absorbed through mucous membranes, i.e. eyes, mouth and nose (Comeron, 2002). Therefore, when handling cane toads this may cause temporary blindness, inflammation and intense pain in humans. Cane toads spread to the Northern Territory from Queensland in 1980 (Van Dam et a[, 2002). Their spread rate has been estimated to be between 30-50 km/ year and are present in coastal Northern Territory from Queensland border to the south bank of Roper River (Speare, 1997).