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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



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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Tabled Paper 1123


Tabled Papers for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; Tabled papers for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; Tabled papers; ParliamentNT




Tabled by Delia Lawrie


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Written Submissions Dr Freeland Volume 2 Cane Toad Inquiry Report 157 The measures to ensure public access to information on the cane toad are documented above, as are measures to improve understanding of possible impacts and to aid in prevention of dispersal to islands off the coast. Over the past twenty years there have been very few proposals of mechanisms to control or eradicate the cane toad. People who have attempted to eradicate cane toads by physical removal from waterholes have rapidly concluded that total or even local eradication is not a practical option. Constant vigilance and never ending removal in a small locality is practical if you want to put in a massive never-ending effort, but the result would be control with continual invasion from outside areas. A proposal was made for funding the use traps that selectively eliminate cane toads. One proponent wrote to the Parks and Wildlife Commission but when I asked to provide detailed information on the effectiveness of the trap, the specificity of the trap to cane toads and if possible the style of construction, he wrote to say this would require a large grant for construction, travel to the Northern Territory and trialing of the trap. In the absence of more substantive information it was inappropriate to fund the proposal. Another proposal was made for the study of pheromones that might act as an attractant or otherwise influence cane toad behaviour in ways that would aid control. Again the proponent failed to provide a detailed research proposal (experimental protocols etc as is usual) or provide a clear indication of how such technology could be applied (again as would usually be expected in such a proposal). The work was not funded. The above proposals for control or eradication have a common weakness. The problem with cane toads is not one of "How do we find them?" They are conspicuous and congregate in large numbers in highly predictable locations. The problem is one of the large numbers in which they occur, the rapid rate of production of recruits to populations and the wide distribution across often extremely remote areas that are difficult and expensive to access. The feasibility requirements for establishing fencing to exclude cane toads from peninsulas or large areas of mainland habitat have been discussed above. If fencing proves feasible I would not advocate its application at the scale of an urban housing allotment. Any fence that excludes cane toads would also impound species such as blue tongue lizards and other skinks and small organisms. The establishment of small isolated populations would increase the risk of random population extinction in individual backyards, as well as the potential for inbreeding depression and extinction in the longer term. It would be inappropriate to fence anything other than a very extensive area e.g. the Cobourg Peninsula is certainly sufficient. The option that has received the majority of serious attention is that of biological control. There is no comprehensive statement of what this option requires to be successful, or the likelihood of an appropriate agent being discovered or developed. The greatest issue is that use of such an agent could potentially cause a greater conservation problem than that caused by the cane toad. It was this problem that dictated the structure of the early CONCOM sponsored research. A successful agent for the control cane toads needs to be capable of frequent transmission to cane toads, to have impacts specific to cane toads, to persist over broad geographic areas without human interference and to cause highly significant

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