Cane Toads


A heartfelt cry from the Kununurra Community to the Nation now fighting to stop the cane toad from crossing into WA since Sept. 2004.


KTB awarded of the Regioal Achievers Community of the Year.
Stopping toads not just about catching toads.


11 October 2006

Mud Wrestling and Wild TUSKED Pigs
but KTB heroes still catch
5,694 Cane Toads in ONE NIGHT!

Cane Toad Science Turned On Its Head?

After 13 months of week in week out toad busting, the volunteer KTBs know a lot more about cane toad breeding habits than most.

The KTBs have now caught 34,155 cane toads in 13 months of regular toadbusting. HOWEVER, it is really NOT ABOUT THE NUMBERS. Regular Persistent Busting that stops toads breeding seems to be the key. If the only two toads caught from a new area are mature toads about to breed, this is much more important than catching all their offspring. So eradicating breeding toads from a new area, before the damage is done by their offspring, is the key.

The cane toads have now found a second corridor for their relentless attack at WA. This is thanks to a prolonged wet season early this year, and Cyclones Ingrid (17 March 06) and Monica (27 April 06) whose flood waters brought cane toads to the Battle Creek System on Moolooloo and Victoria River Downs (VRD) Stations (pastoral leases within Heytesbury Holdings).


Since the KTBs turned their attention to VRD 4 weeks ago after they were advised by VRD that toads had been found and were breeding, the KTBs have busted 14,460 cane toads on VRD, with 12,542 cane toads taken from VRD Larry’s Dam over 8 nights, with 5,694 caught in one night.

The KTB field coordinator Lee Scott-Virtue is leading another team of volunteers to VRD this weekend, in the hope that they can mop up the toads remaining in Larry’s Dam estimated to be around 50,000 toads.

Reports from station owners and workers who monitor station fences, dams and bores, and from aboriginal communities, the DEC and KTB volunteers confirm that there were no cane toads on VRD (or Auvergne) stations until this year. Lee says,

“The collective wisdom about how cane toads breed and move may need reviewing. If an area free of cane toads can be infested by so many cane toads so quickly, the number of eggs and tadpoles that survive (they lay up to 30,000 eggs at a time) may be much higher than previously thought, when the cane toad is infesting a new area. We measure, weigh, and record the gender and place found of each cane toad we catch. On VRD we are seeing a few old mature breeding toads with thousands of younger cane toads. Our experience at the Victoria River Roadhouse combined with the precipitate infestation of Auvergne and now VRD this year makes me think that old mature breeding toads move forward to colonise an area and that if we get these breeders early before they breed, we are much more likely to be successful in both keeping the toads at bay and in stopping the new laying of tens of thousands of eggs”.

It was recognised very early in the KTB field campaign that toads were using two corridors of entry to reach both the Victoria River and the creek and river systems located to the east of the Commonwealth owned military base Bradshaw Station. Confirmed reports indicated toads reached the Victoria River Road House and Bradshaw Station in 2004. Twelve months of established breeding, a prolonged wet season and Cyclone Ingrid enabled toads to move south onto Auvergne (across the Victoria River) from Bradshaw Station and west along the flooded, (at this time of the year mainly freshwater) Victoria River. Agriculture WA, the first WA government agency to work on the impending cane toad invasion of WA, established in 2005 that the cane toad front was then still east of the Victoria River. On this information the KTB’s (and DEC/ CALM) based their campaign at the Victoria River Roadhouse and started busting between there and Auvergne Station (west of Timber Creek). There were no cane toads on Auvergne until March 2006.

Roy and Teresa who own and manage the Victoria River Roadhouse and camping ground say that, the constant and regular toadbusting by the KTBs have seen a reduction in cane toads since the KTBs started busting, and the regular busting has had a major impact on the breeding population numbers at the Roadhouse. Lee says, “…that the managers of Coolibah Station and Bluey’s Crocodile Farm located further west along the Victoria River confirm that this is also the case where the KTBs have also been toadbusting for the past year”.

This upcoming wet season may see the cane toad front SEND the cane toads dangerously close to the head waters of the Ord River and Lake Argyle catchment if VRD is not cleared of toads.

Lee and co-KTBcampaigners, Sarah Brett and Dean Goodgame say that,

“It is just as well that the KTB’s monitored, learned, recorded, reported, and relentlessly busted toads for 13 months including through the wet season (a first in 71 years!). It is also just as well that the KTB Dry Season Field Strategy has been adaptive and questioning. The cane toads now massing on Victoria River Down Station are closer to the Ord catchment than those at Timber Creek and Auvergne station (where toadbusting is nevertheless still important), and accordingly pose the more present and imminent danger to WA. The volunteers who, every week face 40 degree humid heat, snakes, helicopter sized mosquitoes and dangerous feral pigs with very big tusks to undertake the backbreaking mud wrestling work in the dark, 450 kms from home, are heroes.


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Our Volunteers
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Biodiversity Protection WA
Shire of East Wyndham Kimberley
Department of Environment and Conservation Kununurra
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Rogers Machinery
Alligator Airways



“KTBs Bag Thousands of Cane Toads on VRD” Photo by KTB Mark Pedretti