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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Written Submissions S J Reynolds Volume 2 Cane Toad Inquiry Report 141 SUBMISSION NO. 19 S J Reynolds, Private Citizen firstname.lastname@example.org 16 May 2003 Sessional Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development Dear Committee TOAD TASK FORCE Cane Toads are invading the Top End at a rapid rate. After taking nearly a decade to cross the Gulf they are now spreading throughout the tropical north, rapidly populating the woodlands, rivers and forests of the Top End. Toads have already reached Katherine and the southern parts of Kakadu, they have been reported as far north as Pine Creek, and it is anticipated that they will reach Darwin in the near future. Anecdotal evidence and scientific studies clearly show that Toads have a devastating effect on wildlife. Large, predatory species are particularly at risk, but a wide array of native species will be affected. With no natural enemies and a high reproductive rate, it is anticipated that the Toads will spread widely and leave in their wake a tale of ecosystem destruction. Significantly, Toads have the potential to strongly affect the backbone of the Northern Territory economy - the Tourism Industry, with flow on effects throughout the entire community. Immediate action needs to be taken to curb the spread of the Toads. To date there has been no comprehensive, large scale effort to try to stop or even slow the invading hordes. Although with current control methods elimination of toads may be an unachievable goal, it should at least be possible to slow or halt their northward incursion. This would allow much needed time for research into methods of effective control. The emphasis of the Toad Task Force should be to slow the 'toad front' on its forward march. This first wave of invaders is made up of large, mobile individuals that are relatively few in number; hence they can be contained. If Toads can be prevented from establishing new populations then the rate of spread will be significantly reduced. It is proposed that a Toad Task Force (TTF) be established with the following objectives: reduce the rate of spread of toads in the Top End eliminate toads, toad eggs and 'tadpoles' wherever encountered eliminate newly established toad infestations preserve the integrity of parks and wilderness areas ascertain principal pathways of spread and invasion investigate habitat use and site selection to aid in detection investigate the biology of toads with a view to devising methods for population control document the effect of toads on wildlife raise public awareness of the effects of toads on wildlife and the potential for harm to pets and children