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
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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Dr Freeland Written Submissions Cane Toad Inquiry Report Volume 2 162 Even if the epidemiological constraints prove inconsequential, the modified virus proves permanently stable and toads die in large numbers there is no guarantee that the conservation outcomes (need to be clearly defined) we are seeking will be delivered. We can not afford fall in the hole of simply assuming that somehow it will all get better. How many toads or what proportions of toad populations need to be eliminated prior to achieving "recovery" of native species or ecological communities? How do we measure recovery when the impacts noted are extinction, accommodation through rapid natural selection, or essentially can not be measured? A goanna lives a long time, as does a cane toad. You do not need many toads per unit area for a goanna to find one within a relatively short period of time. My personal view is that the above issues need clarification so as to improve the public's appreciation of the endeavour's inherent difficulties. It is quite possible that even with this clarification; a lot of resources could be expended without there being any conservation benefit. WORKING OUT THE PRIORITIES The above discussion relates to what we know about the cane toad, its interaction with nature in the Northern Territory and Queensland and possible options for management and future research. In the best of all world's cane toads would be our only conservation issue and the Parks and Wildlife Commission could devote greatly enhanced resources and effort to solving the problems. Unfortunately nature conservation in the Northern Territory is not in such a fortunate position. The priority for cane toad research and management needs to be evaluated against expenditure proposed to deal with the following issues and probably many more problems. 1. The camel population in Central Australia is growing rapidly and is uncontrolled and causing damage that may never be rectified e.g. Quondongs. 2. The donkey population in the VRD in being brought under control, but feral populations in the Gulf Country continue to grow unchecked. 3. The post-BTEC remnants of the water buffalo population are growing and expanding rapidly. 4. Fire across much of the Territory continues to manage us rather than us manage it, even though advances have been achieved. 5. Gamba Grass continues to spread through the Top End, and not withstanding the excellent effort of Rangers in Litchfield and other National Parks, constitutes a far greater threat to the Territory's flora and fauna than does the cane toad. 6. Buffel Grass continues to spread across the semi-arid lands at a great loss to conservation. 7. We continue to maintain massive infestations of Mimosa. 8. The recent DIPE annual report notes there are at least 201 Territory species that are probably threatened, yet there are only three management programs to deal with the problem (there was a recent release of two more for public comment) and recovery management is conducted on no more than a handful of species.
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