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.5

By Lee Scott-Virtue


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

Federal Government 12 April 2005



We hope you like our new logo.
As the volunteer Community fight towards stopping the Cane Toad from crossing the border into WA had developed into a total community effort far exceeding the borders of Kununurra, we have created a new logo to better represent the Kimberley Community as a whole.

Dr Sarah Brett was the brain behind the wonderful words


We have used this to highlight the message behind the logo.

 TOAD BUSTERS STRIKE AGAIN! (And again and again!!!!)  

Thomas and Dominique Breig were our Toad Buster Leaders for the weekend of the 29 th and 30th Sept. Toad Busting exercise. Accompanied by Rob Floyd and Lynn Alaikis and Elizabeth, they busted a total of 129 Toads. 71 were female and 58 male. Six of the males and females caught were amplexing, in other word the males were busy fertilising the eggs. Most of the females caught were extremely gravid so this means Thomas and Dominique and their team managed to probably stop the laying of around one million nine hundred thousand eggs.

Thomas and Dominique also reported that most of the toads busted were found immediately around the Coolibah Homestead. Some were found hydrating in the mud around the near dry billabongs, but 112 of the total 129 were actually busted in and around the homestead. The owner of the Crocodile Farm has since reported to us that the Toad Busting activities carried out by Dom and Tom and their team has made a real impact on the number of toads now moving around the Coolibah Homestead and the Crocodile Farm. Good on you Toad Busters!

The Toad Busting activities last weekend (6 th and 7 th Nov) were lead by Chris Spur. I went along merely as a member of the team and I must say it was great to be able to just concentrate on catching cane toads rather than spending my whole time watching out for saltwater crocodiles and other such dangers our intrepid Cane Toad Volunteers face when working along the Victoria River. It was a hard Toad Busting weekend with very humid conditions and massive insect activity. We all agreed at the end of the exercise that we probably managed to swallow half the insect population between us. We were joined by Maria Chan, Georgina Wilson, Nigel Shultz and young master Wilson who celebrated his 5 th birthday Toad Busting until well after midnight. 75 toads (39 females and 36 males) were captured and a new front line incursion was busted. All females were very gravid and we estimate we knocked off the potential laying of around 270,000 eggs.

General Field Observations from Tom and Dom’s Group:

  • A dead freshwater crocodile, approx. 1 metre long, was found near Bluey's boat ramp. No autopsy was performed but Tom reported that it appeared to have no markings on it suggesting it may have died from cane toad poisoning. Photographs were taken.
  • Cane Toad activity began immediately the sun went down. Light rain was experienced and it is believed this may have stimulated the early activity.
  • Over 90% of the toads were busted on Coolibah Stations lawn areas.
  • Toad Busting on the Coolibah Lawn area was intensive and took place over a number of hours.
  • Less than 10%of cane toads were ‘busted’ at the Crocodile ‘effluent’ pools.
  • None of the traps checked had cane toads, although several had cane toad activity around them.
  • Native frog activity was evident.

 General Field Observations from Chris Spurs Group:

  • Despite rain recorded 3 days earlier the general landscape was dry. The weather was very humid and generally oppressive. Very little night sounds were noticed.
  • The female Cane Toad was the only one that appeared to be away from the main permanent water source. And that they were only being caught either between the Victoria River and other permanent water sources or at the permanent water sources themselves.
  • The cane toads did not start to become obvious until quite late into the evening.
  • Up until close to midnight the toads remained quite well hidden under logs and debris, pig wallows and other disturbed and excavated damp areas. The cane toads were half buried in any damp or moist depression they could find. The toads on the whole appeared to be mainly hydrating.
  • The two main areas chosen for the Toad Busting activities had to be busted twice over several hours to ensure that all toads were busted.
  • It was felt that the toads busted in the second ‘bust’ had emerged from ‘hiding’ rather than a ‘new’ insurgence?
  • An isolated populations of two dozen toads was found approximately 2 km south of Bluey,s boat ramp with nothing picked up in between. The conclusion is that there are probably scattered cane toad incursions well south of this are, possibly just past Fitzroy Community and that future busts may need to cover considerable walking distance in this area.
  • The weekend ‘bust’ by the Volunteer Toad Busters indicated that there were very few adolescents and that the main catches were very gravid females and probably second generation?
  • Males on the whole appeared to be smaller in size and there was some indication that this appeared to more a result of dehydration rather than an age thing??
  • There were no male calls, despite the fact that there had been rain 3 days beforehand! Strong male calls had been recorded by the Community Volunteer Group in the area the previous two weekends.
  • Victoria River Road House, Coolibah Crocodile Farm, Coolibah Station and other designated Toad Busting areas in between, have definitely shown a reduction in the numbers of cane toads being ‘busted since the Kimberley Volunteer Toad Busting program began. Real wet season rains will assist in determining if this observation is correct.
  • That flying insect activity had increased massively.
  • Despite the increased insect activity around the lights in traps observed, the traps were not drawing the cane toads.
  • Marsupial activity was recorded. 2 native mice species, one rat 4 different species of native frogs were photographed.


The toads are still very much focused around the main Victoria River and other water bodies, despite the recent rains. So come on volunteers, the more people we can get out there busting those toads in the next few weeks the better the chance we have of diminishing the cane toad’s ability to breed in big numbers over the wet.


This weekends Toad Busting activities (14 th and 15 th) will be led by Del Collins. Organisation for this activity and the subsequent weekend is being undertaken by Sarah Brett. Over the next few weekends we also intend to net tadpoles and collect any eggs that may be present as well as Toad Busting. Please contact Sarah if you can make it!

CALM have provided maps and information on several areas that need checking and possibly Toad Busting. We hope to be able to send our teams into these areas over the next two weekends. Can I please urge ‘trained’ Toad Busters to fill in the CALM Volunteer form’s. These can be picked up at the Vet Centre or just give us a ring or email and we can fax one through to you.

I have included a Toad Busting exercise proposed by Paul Sharpe on Bradshaw Military Base and in the general area of Fitzroy Community. If anyone is interested in joining this activity please email Paul directly. All details are in contained in the extract below..

FROM: Paul Sharp

Cane Toad Exclusion Consultancy

P.O. Box 1248, Nightcliff, N.T. 0814

Mob.: 0408 678 367

Fax: 08 8948 4266


To: Lee Scott-Virtue
Kimberley Specialists in Research

Dear Lee,
I will be based at Timber Creek for 5 days of group Toad Busting on Bradshaw and Fitzroy Stations working each evening from Friday 11 th – Tuesday 15 th November. The Traditional Owners have granted permission to access Sacred Site waterholes in the vicinity of the cane toad front line. A few TO’s are expected to accompany our group. The Military have granted access to the Bradshaw Field Training Area.

If there are any experienced Toad Busters who would like to join in this operation, then we can meet at the Timber Creek Roadhouse at 2pm on Saturday. My car is a red Holden Rodeo dual-cab Ute, rego Osteo, and I’ll be parked opposite the Roadhouse.

Toad Busters will be invited from each of the following organisations (listing from east to west): Frogwatch, (Darwin); Parks and Wildlife, (Gregory); local Traditional Owners and related Timber Creek community members; Kununurra Volunteers (c/o Lee Scott-Virtue); CALM (Kununurra). The Military may also want to send a representative to accompany our group while on Bradshaw. The maximum group size will be limited to 12 volunteers in 3 vehicles. For the convenience of working participants, there could be a Weekend group (Saturday and Sunday evenings) and a Monday-Tuesday group. I would hope to finalise names by Thursday 9am. Interested parties should contact me .s.a.p.
I will be arriving in Timber Creek around midday Friday to meet with relevant TO’s immediately after their Bradshaw Cultural Walk. My intention is to use the Friday evening and Saturday morning for reconnaissance and planning, so that when the full group goes out from the Saturday afternoon, we can operate as efficiently as possible.
There are various safety requirements for visitors into the Bradshaw Military Training Area. I am required to brief everyone in our group before we enter the Training Area. One issue is critical – we must have full Public Liability coverage. Traditional Owners and all those who accompany them will be insured through the NLC policy. For the Indemnity Form we must supply a full list of names with individual signatures. People could sign when we meet together in Timber Creek. The toad busting operations will involve extended periods of night work picking up toads, and some day work looking for eggs and tadpoles (as the toads may have started breeding after the October rains). We will be camping out on Saturday and Monday nights, returning to Timber Creek each day.
There is no external funding for this operation. All participants would be responsible for organising their own transport, equipment and food.

The intended locations for Toad Busting are:

1. Waterholes near the new road through Bradshaw Field Training Area, east of the new construction site area, particularly the supposed ‘hitchhiker outbreak’ ahead of the main toad front line as previously discussed. Access has been authorised by the Military.

2. Riverbanks and rock holes along the VictoriaRiver downstream (west) from the mouth of Sandy Creek, particularly those in the several kilometres downstream from the mouth of Jack Brumby Creek.

3. Sandy Creek and nearby waterholes upstream (south) of the Victoria Highway, assuming that some still have water.

4. Recheck of Turtle Lagoon after the October rains.

The order of visitation to these areas will be sorted out at our meeting with the TO’s.

The timing of this toad busting effort is during the week before the full moon, for best evening visibility. It is also now more than 2 weeks since the last significant rainfall in the area and the toads should have returned to the waters edge, making eradication possible. Hopefully it won’t rain for at least this next week. This may be our last opportunity to push back the cane toad front line before the wet season sets in. At the least we should be able to accurately locate the cane toad front line. I look forward to speaking with potential participants today or tomorrow.

Ph. 0408 678 367. I will be leaving from Darwin on Thursday morning. For last minute arrangements, I should be again contactable by telephone around midday Friday while in Timber Creek.
Thank you for your assistance.
Yours sincerely,
Paul Sharp

If anyone would like to join any of the weekends Toad Busting activities please contact Sarah Brett on 91691229 or email


Lee or Dean at or on 91682576

Sara Brett on 0407691229 or for the Tourism Training exercise 26 th November, Jane or Greg Harmin on 91682310. For information on the proposed accredited Cane Toad Training and trap making course please contact Chris Spur on 9168 0880 . For information on the CDEP Toad Busting and Training proposals please contact Ronnie Atkins on 91681528 and Richard Beeck 91683965

PLEASE CONTACT Sarah Brett on 0407691229 if you are able to participate in the weekends Toad Busting exercises.