Cane toads

A heartfelt cry from the Kununurra Community to the Nation.

We will Stop the Cane Toads getting into WA!

The aim of this website is to document the Kimberley Toad Busters fight to stop the cane toad crossing into Western Australia and to provide the Western Australian Community some understanding of the enormous efforts (and contributions) that can be made by unpaid volunteers!
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Volunteer CANE TOAD Training & Toad Busting NEWSLETTER No.10


The Cane Toad is a Key Threatening Process to the Australian Nation.

Federal Government 12 April 2005


 Hello from the Kimberley Toad Busters!

 Firstly I must apologise for the lateness of our 10 th Kimberley Toad Busting Newsletter. Three weeks at Faraway Bay and a tardiness on my own behalf to want to even think of cane toads after just over two years of focussed energy on the ‘critters’ meant that despite all the reports from Toad Buster Leaders coming in on time, I am responsible for the lateness of this Newsletter.

Between Sarah Brett and Dean Goodgame the organisation and logistical nightmare of coordinating weekend Kimberley Toad Busting exercises went without a ‘hitch’ while I was away. Support from team leaders Ronnie Atkins, Tom and Dom Breig, Del Collins and Bruce Russell assisted in the smooth operation of volunteer busting. Further support was found from a number of other toad busters in the general running of things. Jill Parker stepped in to ensure that our guest and main financial contributor, Tim Mitchell from Biodiversity Protection was picked up from the airport and well looked after. (Tim flew from Perth to see first hand what we were all about). Addie and Rod from Kimberley Land Caravan Park , (also two of our Kimberley Toad Buster leaders) contributed 50% towards the accommodation costs and ensured Tim and his girlfriend were looked after during their 3 day stay in Kununurra. Triple J provided a boat trip on Lake Kununurra and Greg from Lake Argyle provided a boat trip on Lake Argyle .

We have no doubts that Tim is now fully cognizant of the reasons why the Kimberley Toad Busters are dedicated towards keeping cane toads out of the Kimberley .

I deeply appreciate just how much time Dean and Sarah and all the other toad buster leaders involved put into keeping the weekend toad busting volunteer activities going while I was at Faraway Bay . Ronnie Atkins put her hand up to drive the Triple J bus and Bruce Russell is now our third back-up driver. Ronnie did all the shopping and organising for the bus crew. Tom and Dom Breig once again stepped in to manage the cooking for the team over the weekend toadbusting training session. There is no doubt that the Kimberley Toad Busters have come of age and that the Toad Busting leadership training exercises have produced a strong management support base for the Kimberley Toad Busters.

Toad Buster Meeting!

We are holding our inaugural Kimberley Toad Busters meeting at the Hotel Kununurra from 6.00 to 8pm on Friday the 10 th February. The primary purpose of this meeting is to consolidate the Kimberley Toad Busters Lions International Insurance Registration and to ensure that all Toad Busters that have not signed the CALM volunteer forms do so at this meeting. Del Collins will be chairing the Lions Insurance aspect of the meeting. Ronnie Atkins will address the meeting on the CDEP Insurance component and discuss how we can also build the Lions Insurance component around the Aboriginal CDEP component. Chris Spurr will address the meeting and bring the Kimberley Toad Buster up to date on the TAFE trap making and other Toad Busting educational courses currently being put together. Other speakers will include toad buster leader Sharon McLachlan who will talk on the proposed Kimberley Toad Buster Calendar for 2007.

Donations of Equipment!

Further donations of equipment for the Kimberley Toad Buster have now arrived. The much needed Tuckerbox freezer and a Leaf Blower donated by Kimberley Diamond Company are ready for use. The donation of this equipment by Kimberley Diamond Company has been much appreciated and reports on the success of the Leaf Blower will be forwarded onto the company. The freezer will be housed at the Victoria River Road House in a locked area provided by the owners Roy and Theresa. The generosity and assistance in so many ways by both Roy and Theresa has been much appreciated by the Kimberley Toad Busters.

Further support from Biodiversity Protection of $5,000 towards fuel and food costs has been much appreciated. This will enable our volunteer group to ‘off-set’ a growing financial burden currently being met by Kimberley Specialists and other Kimberley Toad Buster members of the Kununurra community.

$350 was contributed by Kimberley Kohen towards the cost of food for our last toad busting exercise. Gestures like these just make the ‘sustainability’ of the volunteer cane toad busting activities so much more viable. Hundreds of members of the East Kimberley Community are putting in both time and financial commitment towards the fight to keep the cane toad out of the Kimberley .

Kimberley Vet Centre and Kimberley Wildlife Rescue donated 15 large sealed boxed for all our safety and field equipment. The team that works for Sarah put in hours labelling and coding each of the boxes. Clipboards were also donated so that each box of field equipment is provided with a copy of the field manual, data sheets and other relevant information required in the field by each team.

Wet Season Toad Busting!

 Inclement weather and unexpected rains has meant that our Kimberley Toad Busters have not been able to get to the Cane Toad Front for the last three weekends.

Although disappointing it has provided a welcome relief after 5 months of relentless weekend after weekend of non-stop toad busting. The unexpected break has provided an opportunity for our Kimberley Toad Busters to review the data so far collected and has provided us a window to review and plan the next 6 months of operational on-ground cane toad busting strategies. This is particularly important as the unexpected amount of flooding and residual water on the ground around the cane toad front indicates that current operational tactics and possibly trapping strategies undertaken by CALM and the Kimberley Toad Busters will need to be reviewed. I am meeting with CALM next week to discuss how the volunteer Toad Busters are going to tackle the ‘on-ground- operational strategy for the next several weeks of the wet season. The CALM team is heading up to the cane toad front early next week and will be able to give our Kimberley Toad Busting teams some idea of the situation. With the volunteer toad busters primarily working weekends and the CALM teams working during the week, it has provided a good balance in the cane toad fight.

 Kimberley Toad Busting Wedding! Was to be the 26 th February but now on the 18 th March (for all sorts of complicated toad busting reasons).

 Dean and I would like to extend an invitation to all Kimberley Toad Busters to come up to the Victoria River Road House on the Toad Busting weekend of the 18th March to not only toad bust (and obviously this is a priority) but to celebrate with us our commitment to ‘tie the knot’ (Oh Goodness! the word ‘marriage’). Truly at our age this is nothing more that a few words (and a personal commitment) but the decision to do this was made long before ‘toad busting’. The problem is that we do not for-see a weekend (for the next several years and this is a worry at our age) without being involved in toad busting so decided we might as well combine it with toadbusting. Nothing special but lots of toadbusting, awful heat and weather AND camping. But guaranteed to be lots of fun. More details in the next Newsletter. But will need to know who is coming so we can make sure we cater enough ‘bush-camp’ food.

 Cane Toad Counts:

 The cane toad tally for the Kimberley Toad Busters as of the 22 nd January (the last volunteer toad busting) reached an extraordinary 3,990 toads caught by the volunteers to date. It has been loosely estimated that between the CALM team, our Kimberley Toad Busters and Coolibah Station, Bluey’s Crocodile Farm and the Victoria River Roadhouse crew that we have probably come close to disposing of around 10,000 toads since the beginning of September. Not included in this count are the tens of thousands of eggs, tadpoles and metamorphs that have also been disposed of by all involved.

The collation and breakdown of all the data gathered by our Kimberley Toad Busters, including the information collected on native species of frogs and other aquatic and terrestrial animals has been undertaken by Addie, one of our toad buster leaders. We hope to report the outcomes of the data in the next Newsletter.

Kimberley Toad Busters web site.

 We are looking for information and anything relevant on cane toads that could go up onto our Kimberley Toad Busters community website. Dean Goodgame is going to be spending a fair bit of time ‘tidying’ up the site and loading new data over the next two weeks so if you have anything you feel should be on the site, or links that are missing, please contact or Dean on 91682576

The following reports have been provided by various Toad Buster Leaders over the past few Cane Toad Busts.

1/ Cane Toad Report for the Weekend of the 7-8/1/2006-01-26

Del : Measuring/sexing/euthanasing.

Montana ! Her 4th Toad Bust!

31 Kimberley Toad Busters turned up for the weekend’s toadbusting of the 7-8 th January. 5 teams were set up and several areas were hit. The CDEP team under the toad busting leadership of Mick Rogers toad busted the Victoria Highway east of the Victoria River Road House. Our team driving the Triple J Bus checked CALM traps and road busted from Brownies Creek west and to the Victoria River Road House. Several other independent teams under the leadership of Rachel Mclachlan, Sue Roberts, Ronnie Atkins, Bruce Russel, Jill Parker, Dean Goodgame, myself and Cathy Cummins busted the Escarpment Creek areas, all other creek lines from the Victoria River Roadhouse to Skull Creek. A total of 349 toads were picked up by the Toad Busters over the weekend. 177 of these were female, with approximately 90% of these being very gravid.

Cane toad busting report 14 – 15/1/2006

Report by Wendy Carter.

Montana Ahwon
Wendy Carter
Terry Howe
Allan Wedderburn
Liz Kent
Queenie Malgil - first time toad buster
Pamela Sampson - first time toad buster & visitor from Yuendumu, N.T.
Denise Wilkins - first time toad buster &visitor from Newton Abbot, U.K.
Eight of us set out for the Victoria River with our new well prepared toad busting kits complete with spotlights with battery kits and walkie talkie radios.

What would we do without our family group input?

After heavy rains we found Skull, Lost and Joe’s Creeks devoid of metamorphs and only found two tadpoles we weren’t sure about. Let’s hope the fast flowing water got the better of the hundreds of metamorphs found there previously!

Onto the Vic River Roadhouse where, after dark, we first swept the area around the roadhouse. To our amazement we did almost a full loop before we found half a dozen toads under the water tank & then picked up only 24 in that vicinity.

I really am cute!

‘Don’t you love me even at this age?

We picked up only 5 toads along the Escarpment Creek and 1 at Joe’s Creek which really surprised us but then picked up 132 along the main toad highway between Joe’s Creek & the roadhouse.

One escapee had the ladies giggling after the initial shock horror of the ‘naughty frog’ climbing across their backs. Then on the Sunday morning another recalcitrant was found in the passenger seat of the second vehicle.*

 *(Every vehicle is searched thoroughly on the Sunday morning after toad busting and before we set off on the return to Kununurra (and we are getting better at this). In turn the vehicles are again searched by the WA Check Point crew. There is no way Kimberley Toad Busters are contributing their time and financial input to stop the toad from crossing into WA to then inadvertently ‘bring’ them in themselves. Every Toad Busting effort is a learning curve! Lee Scott-Virtue)

Male toads caught 99
Female toads caught 64
Total 163


After the rains a lot of the toads led the busters a merry dance, hopping this way & that across the highway to the great entertainment value of the observers. Liz was voted the No. 1 jumping buster on the team with Allan & Denise not far behind.

Some of the toads seemed a bit crook, skinny, and hollow eyed (!?) & lethargic. One appeared to be a very old female but we couldn’t work out why some of the younger ones seemed in such bad shape.

Culling took place next morning first using the unleaded petrol vehicle generously provided by the Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley. However Roy pointed out that premium unleaded would do a speedier job & brought his commodore over to prove it. He was right!

No metamorphs sighted Only two tadpoles sighted & we couldn’t be sure as the water was muddy

At the Vic River Roadhouse, Roy & Theresa are really seeing the difference the toad busting is making in their area & they are most helpful. Ken, who looks after the grounds, once again offered to dispose of the corpses, for which we were very grateful.

Toad Busting Report for the Weekend of the 21-22/1/2006

Visit by Tim Mitchell from Biodiversity Protection.

It never fails! A look of glorious content on the male toad face and on the female- “Oh Goodness! Not again!’

 The following reports are by the various Kimberley Toad Buster leaders who led individual teams up for the weekend of the 21 st and 22 nd January. 47 volunteer toad busters attended the weekend.

 A combined total catch for the weekend: 439.

 The following by Sarah Brett.

Saturday 21st of January was my 2nd chance to get out Toadbusting for the year, and what

An excellent weekend it was. We had an enthusiastic bunch of "busters" including my friend Trevor Dutoit, and Tim Mitchell of Biodiversity Protection WA and his lovely lady Dani.

As usual we made camp at the Vic River Roadhouse, and that weekend the Vic was only about 3 meters below the bridge and flowing strongly. I saw my first waterfalls for the season, running off the escarpment that faces the roadhouse, and it was a thrilling sight signaling the "real" start of the wet season for me.

Our toadbusting team was lead by Thomas, Dominique and their son Philippe, and along with Trevor, myself, Manu and Jill Parker, we were allocated the road down to the boat ramp, the boat ramp, and the paddock next to  the roadhouse on the corner of the boat ramp road to bust.

Our reccie in the afternoon revealed a VERY high Vic River at the boat ramp, which meant that we could only get a very short distance along the river bank. We did check a small wetland just before the boat ramp, and all along the road and wetlands back to the highway, but only found native frog tadpoles. Yippee!

After tea we ventured back over the road to a small cleared area just opposite to the turnoff into the highway, where we found 2 adult cane toads. (I did mange to let one out of the bag as I back got into the car, but l down to the boat ramp, as did the rain.  We were all thrilled to hear plenty of native frogs singing and to find plenty of adult frogs of various varieties, but unfortunately also heard cane toads calling off to the left of the road, towards the escarpment a first "hearing" for Thomas. We also found 2 beautiful baby pythons along the way, one children’s and one olive, which were both gorgeous.

Our wander through the paddock on the corner of the roadhouse presented us with a bonanza of toads, including many rather large females. We had set off into the paddock not expecting to find quite so many adults, and by the time we were half way, round our bag was absolutely heaving!! As we continued to collect more toads our bag was literally bursting at the seams, and Trevor very nobly sacrificed his shirt so that we wouldn’t loose our catch on the way home (Bruce reckoned that some fellas will do anything to get their shirt off!!)  Whilst waiting for the bulging bag to catch up with him, Trev also impressed us by managing to hang onto a very creditable effort of seven toads at once!!

We returned to the roadhouse, a soggy but satisfied bunch, but not ones to rest on their laurels, Dom (eagle eyed toad spotter) and Jill (champion catcher of toads by the toes) took off down to the generator....and returned with another 25 !!

Our weigh-in and measuring in the morning was magnificently managed by Del Collins as usual, and we now have our own CO2 bottle for euthansing our catch. We certainly all noticed a general reduction in the overall size of the toads mustered, which was very satisfying to all. Generally we all felt that we had done the weekend justice, and kept up the great work that Lee would expect of us!! Well done to all involved and see you on the next trip that I can join.

Amplexing toads!

 The following report from Tim Mitchell-first time Toad Buster and volunteer.

I attended last weekend's toad bust and met a lot of enthusiastic Toad Busters, including Dean, Addie, Sarah, Ronnie, Georgina, Dell, Jill, Bruce, Paul and Chris.  Noticeably absent were Graeme Sawyer and of course Lee. I was on the bus sweeping the road and checking CALM traps and I was
impressed with the level of determination and organisation demonstrated by all those involved.  The emphasis on the humane dispatch of the invaders is
important and heartening.  It was also rewarding to see the Biodiversity Protection WA Inc equipment being well used and cared for.  It is wonderful
to see the children so heavily involved in the exercise and it really does seem to me that this huge environmental threat is really drawing the
community together.

It was quite disappointing to see that Toad busters are forced to fund their operation, which is conducted in the whole State's interests, almost
entirely out of their own pockets.  But after seeing the Kimberley Toad busters in action I am sure that Biodiversity Protection will have no
qualms in providing further assistance and forging a long-term relationship with KTB.

I will also take this opportunity to thank Addie and Rod at Kimberleyland for providing us accommodation for the length of our stay, Triple J tours
and Greg at Lake Argyle for providing us free tours, Ben for putting us up in Darwin, Dr Sarah for a lovely dinner and loaning us a vehicle and Jill
and Dr Sarah for tripping us around.

Well I look forward to making it to the 'Front Line' again and seeing KTB in
action once again.

Till Then

Happy Toadbusting

Tim Mitchell
Secretary/Public Officer
Biodiversity Protection WA Inc

Our first American Toad Buster: The cartoon character was sent to Del by a young student in the USA .

Del is supposed to take him around, write about his adventures, take pictures and send the whole lot back to the student who then reports these adventures to their class. I am told he thoroughly enjoyed his first toad busting experience!

Report by Jill Parker.

The weekend was great fun as usual, with the added attraction of a quick visit to one of the waterfalls on the Victoria River Escarpment for the bus
people.  We were pleased to see no sign of cane toads here and were treated to sightings of the splendid green tree frog, and other natives.
We all met at White Gum Park and after a heavy shower of rain we managed to get all the gear on board and set off.  Several car loads went across as
well as 14 of us in the bus. Tim and Dani from Biodiversity Australia joined the bus for a ‘look-see’ at where and how we are using their donated equipment. Once we arrived at Victoria River Roadhouse we split up into 5 groups and set off to areas designated by Sarah Brett. We did a daylight search of our areas for signs of tadpoles and toadlets, and monitored the native species activity in the areas. My group found that the river was so high (~4 meters under the bridge) that we couldn't investigate the boat ramp area, so we concentrated on the road and paddocks surrounding. Dinner was cooked for us by Thomas and Dominique (very yummy) then we set off around the roadhouse. I took two others and we walked down past the Generator and found 15 mostly adult females.  We came back to this area around 1am the next morning and collected a further 10. The remainder of the evening was spent walking the boat ramp road and then the paddock tracks back to the roadhouse.  We collected about 64 large adults, and heard more males calling but couldn't find them in the long grass. The highlight of the evening was the firefly show in the shed after lights out.  It was quite spectacular. The next morning, after a sumptuous ‘breaky’ cooked by Thomas and Dom we gave summaries of our nights work then got on with the "gruesome" task of weighing, measuring and sexing. The roadhouse staff again assisted with the disposal of the bodies. Tim and Dani had a good time and thought we were terribly organized! We asked Tim about getting some off-road camper trailers equipped with 10 tents, bedding, torches, etc so that we can be more mobile and organized. Good weekend over all.The tally was 443. 42 toads were handed to us by a tourist at the roadhouse who had caught them during the week. 

Report from Bruce Russell.

A big contingent of Kimberley Toad Buster volunteers gathered in White Gum Park on Saturday morning and set off in the bus and three cars with several cars following later on. STTF assistant co-coordinator Derek Monks came along and took part in the bust. Numerous toads were caught in the Vic River campgrounds. Different areas were assigned to different groups and they patrolled these with Dean, Derek, my son Robert and I going through to Brownie's Creek. Dean, Derek and Robert spent an hour or more wading through about half a meter of flowing water near the dam catching numerous toads, whilst I trailed behind muttering about mad toad busters. We then caught numerous toads on the way back, suggesting that although the road had already been swept several times, there may me a need to think of shifts at some stage in the future, especially on nights of light rain. Dean's elegant football collecting method of scooping up to four toads at a time had to be seen to be believed and I'm sure any football club would want him as a forward. Traps were relatively ineffective on this occasion, with the exception of the CALM trap with the calling signal, which contained quite a few toads at the dam site. Reports were also contributed by Ronnie Atkins and Dave Woods. These will be in the next Newsletter. Other reports on the TAFE trap making course and the new accredited cane toad educational course will also be published in the next Newsletter.

We will be back toad busting from the weekend of the 18 th February. Please contact Lee or Dean on 91682576 or or Sarah Brett on 0407691229

Nobody is too young or too old in this fight to stop the cane toad from crossing into Western Australia .

 If you don’t have a vehicle we can always find a seat on the Triple J Toad Busting Bus.



Kimberley or Lee or Dean 91682576

Or contact Sarah Brett 0407691229