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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Parks & Wildlife Commission NT Written Submissions Cane Toad Inquiry Report Volume 2 34 Cultural and socio-economic impacts Many of the native wildlife species likely to be affected by cane toads (e.g. goannas, turtles, crocodiles) are important food resources for Aboriginal people living traditional lifestyles. Decline of this wildlife will erode that lifestyle and will lead to increased costs where dietary alternatives (i.e. store brought food) have to be found. Cane toads will also degrade the quality of life of Territorians more generally. Many Territory residents appreciate their close contact with a largely unspoilt nature. High densities of a conspicuous and ugly animal pest will detract from that contact. Toads will flourish in and around swimming pools and ornamental ponds, and the lawns and shady gardens that are such a feature of Darwin are ideal toad habitat. Toads will prove a hazard for pets, and are likely to cause the death of at least some dogs. Toads may also have some impact on Territory enterprises. Tourists may find the wildlife/wilderness experience somewhat diminished by the presence of large numbers of cane toads, although the limited information available suggests that this impact is likely to be minor. There is some anecdotal evidence that cattle may sicken from drinking water that has held high densities of toad eggs or tadpoles. MANAGING THE IMPACTS There is no short term solution to this issue. While this reality should be explicitly recognised, it should not be an excuse for complete inaction. Control mechanisms 1. Physical removal is unlikely to be effective. A trial was conducted by Parks and Wildlife in the Gulf region in the mid 1990s. 3,253 toads were removed from three adjacent waterholes over a five night period but more than this number remained. Thus total eradication from an area would be extremely labour intensive, costly and only likely to be partially effective for short periods of time. A bounty system would not achieve control and would be costly. 2. It has been suggested that fencing may be effective in toad-proofing part of the Territory mainland. Logistically, by far the most efficient place to do this is at Cobourg Peninsula, where exclosure fencing across the relatively narrow neck could protect an extensive area. Such action is under consideration by the Cobourg Board but there are reasonable concerns about the ability of any fence to exclude toads. If a location can be found that avoids watercourses (i.e. areas that would flood and negate any barrier) then such a fence may work. However its effectiveness would then depend on the likelihood that toads would not swim into the sea to get around such a fence (which would need to be made from a non-corrosive material where it entered the sea). Investigations on this would need to be undertaken. Also it would need to be assessed as to how diluted by freshwater the sea around the end of the fence would become in a high rainfall wet season (and thus breakdown any seawater barrier). Another problem with this concept at Cobourg is the transport of cane toads into the area aboard cars or trailers. They are many examples where cane toads have been transported in such a manner. Thus constant vigilance would be needed and practical experience shows that this is unlikely to be achieved.