Cane toad discovered in Broome backyard years ahead of expert estimates
A cane toad discovered in a Broome backyard has prompted calls for vigilance as the notorious pest has arrived in town years ahead of expert estimates.
On November 7, a Sunset Park resident found a cane toad in their backyard and alerted Parks and Wildlife Service staff who initiated a search and trap effort, destroying the big female cane toad three days later.
Invasive Animals project officer Sara McAllister said the cane toad front was not expected to reach Broome until the 2025-26 wet season and it was possible the pest was transported by vehicle.
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“With the arrival of the wet season, it is a timely reminder to ‘check your load for a toad’ when driving out of a cane toad-infested area. Cane toads like to hide in small crevices in camping gear, boats and vehicles,” she said.
The cane toad’s unstoppable, slow, march to the coast has been on expert’s radars for years with Nyaliga Rangers in the East Kimberley detecting the notorious pest more than 250 times between August 2020 and October 2022.
The destructive amphibians, introduced to Australia in 1935, are known for their distinguishing bony M-shaped ridge on their nose, dry warty skin and big poisonous glands.
Cane toads are a scourge on native wildlife with king brown snakes, goannas, blue tongue lizards, quolls and freshwater crocodiles among those most at risk from the pests.
In January, Derby resident Trevor Menmuir found one of the pests while dropping a bus-load of children back to the Mowanjum community on the western end of the Gibb River Road.
Mr Menmuir had previously never seen them in the area and said it raised grave concerns about how they could impact the region.
“We’ve heard of them being up the Gibb and Mt Barnett for quite some time, but nothing this close and in town. This one’s the first from all I’ve heard,” he said.
“Seeing the devastation to native wildlife in the NT and the East/Central Kimberley, this isn’t a good sign. (It) could be our last good goanna season here in the West Kimberley.”
Two months later in March, Kununurra school teacher, Marion Roberts, discovered a five-legged mutant cane toad while in her backyard and quickly captured it before naming it Pente.
But ground-breaking trials, which included making sausages from toads to feed local animals have given some hope to ecologists.
The sausages made from non-poisonous parts of the toad are laced with sickness-inducing chemicals to try and create a negative association with the toad.
If you think you have found a cane toad, send a photo to 0400 693 807 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for instant identification and advice.
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