The Washington Times-Herald

Community

February 18, 2014

Toads cause more than warts

(Continued)

Many of these native insects were very valuable in pollinating the many plants native to both Hawaii and Australia. Without the insects many of the plants could not bear fruit and it soon became apparent it had been a major mistake to bring in the toads.

I have failed to mention that the cane toad is a remarkable good breeder and has a very toxic spray called bufotoxin which it uses when it is threatened. Also if a dog or some other animal tries to eat a toad, they will probably be poisoned. On a vacation to Hawaii several years ago I saw many signs stating “Keep your dogs and yourselves away from the cane frogs.”

To show how the toad can multiply, from the 100 or so released in the 1930s it is now estimated there are around 200 million in Australia. They are known as the Australia Outlaw, and millions of dollars are spent each year to try to control the spread of the toads.

The government of western Australia has even called in an army to help stop and eradicate the toads. Fences have been built to try and halt the advance of the cane toad. Australia has even had “Toad Days” where volunteers will go out and capture all the toads they can. Still the toads continue increasing and spreading.

Native animals such as lizards and mammals are being poisoned by the toads. The goanna lizard numbers have decreased by 90 percent since the arrival of the cane toad, and the cat-like guall has also had a large population decline.

It has now gotten to the point where biological measures such as viruses are being used to try and control the toads. Also pheromone gene therapy is being tried. I hope their biological measures will not add another alien to the list of Australian problems.

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