FACT SHEET: NUMBER FOUR
KTB COLLECTING AND DISPOSING OF LARGE NUMBERS OF ADULT CANE TOADS IN THE FIELD USING CO2
The KTBs endorse the approach of the following agencies and Acts of Parliament:
WA Animal Welfare Act, which says that if we kill cane toads we should do it in an approved way and do it humanely.
ANZCCART which is a not for profit organisation provides information on the 3Rs ( and international best practice techniques relating to the scientific use of animals, including euthanasia. ANZCCART’s criteria for acceptable euthanasia techniques include minimizing pain and distress to the animal, operator safety, ease of use and that the method be aesthetically acceptable.
The WA Department of Environment and Conservation is concerned that native frogs are not killed by accident and that the methods used do not have an adverse impact on the environment.
The Kimberley Toad Busters must keep their toadbusters as safe as possible and accordingly do not want to carry guns, sharp implements used to pith or sever the head of the cane toad, chemicals or anaesthetic agents, into the field especially given that toadbusters often include children and teenagers. Our message, which has always been to all our toadbusters, is this:
Just because we want to kill the cane toads does not mean we want to hurt them, and we must have safe effective toadbusting that does not include violence.
The Kimberley Toad Busters have developed their cane toad euthanasing techniques through trial and error under the supervision of trained nurses, medical doctors and a veterinary surgeon. The primary and preferred method for humane disposal of large cane toad numbers by Kimberley Toad Busters is euthanasing by CO 2 by the following method.
Cane Toad CO2 Euthanasia Standard Operating Procedure
Cane toads show stress by:
- moving about in a bag or bin in an agitated way rather than settling calmly into a comfortable pile
- exuding poison from the primary poison gland and/or from the little poison glands all over their warty skin areas; and/or
- squirting poison from their poison gland.
KTB toadbusters promote:
- humane collection and euthanasia of cane toads and safe disposal
- keeping toadbusters safe
- minimising native frog collection
- prevention of native species being killed or injured
- minimising the likelihood of captured cane toads exuding or squirting poison
- minimising discomfort to the cane toad
- avoiding rapid introduction of 100% CO 2 into cane toad lungs
- safe and gentle handling of cane toads.
SOP Toadbusting Method
KTB toadbusters ensure:
- prior education of toadbusters with standardised identification charts that show both cane toads and native species of similar appearance, and describe various aspects of behaviour that help distinguish cane toads from native frogs
- wearing of reflective safety vests (toads are nocturnal and so toadbusting is predominantly done at night at the frontlines away from populated or lit areas)
- use of thin (for easiest catching and minimising risk of losing grip of cane toad once caught) disposable gloves for catching toads
- toadbusters work in pairs for safety and to maximise the likelihood of accurate cane toad identification
- cane toads are caught and handled as gently as possible and held away from toadbuster’s face – to avoid the very rare squirt of poison hitting the eye of a toadbuster
- that cane toads are not stood on or squeezed, or that cane toads are not gripped by the poison gland
- that cane toads are not picked up by the mouth or face as this is most likely to lead to the toad thinking it has been eaten by a predator and cause it to release its poison
- captured cane toads are held in nets, bags or bins with plenty of air circulation
- disposable gloves are used when handling toads for measuring and recording toad statistics & checking identity a second time, all the while handling toads with care and away from toadbuster’s face
- that the euthanasing bag (66cm X 51cm = 27 litre thin kitchen tidy bags) is rested on a firm flat smooth surface (so not risk of putting a hole in the bag). The toads need a flat surface under the bag to spread and stack themselves evenly so they can all breathe
- that euthanasing bags are not overloaded: 15 large (over 300g) or 20 (under 300g) toads per plastic bag
- removal of most of the air from the bag by smoothing it with hands up from toads
- that the top of euthanasing bag is held in hand with small opening to insert nozzle from CO 2 cylinder
- that the euthanasing bag is inflated like a balloon with 100% carbon dioxide
- that the euthanasing bag containing both toads and CO 2 is tied off with a balloon knot and left for not less than one hour
- that euthanasing bags are rested on a flat smooth surface to avoid puncture of the plastic bag (KTBs put blown up down on a tarpaulin, back of vehicle or similar smooth surface)
- that cane toad are inspected on release from bag, An autopsy will ensure that the method of euthanasing is effective (helpful for toadbusters new to the process, not necessary now as we are now satisfied that the method works and is effective, although we often autopsy for other reasons)
- that the toads from the euthanasing bag are observed as they are emptied into the pre-dug pit.
- Native Frogs are not euthanased in this process because of the double handling and double checking by trained toadbusters
- Toads not agitated when CO 2 is introduced
- Toads do not exude poison during this technique
- Toads are dead when bag is opened.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
ANZCCART website: www.adelaide.edu.au/ANZCCART/