Cane toads were brought into Australia in 1937 to control beetles that were becoming a pest in sugar cane. From those cane fields in Queensland they have spread south past Brisbane and are heading towards Sydney. They have also spread west into the Northern Territory and are now just entering Western Australia around the Lake Argyle - Kununurra area.
The Google map shows where they have been located in WA between October 2009 and February 2010.
Where are they in WA?
The first toads were found hopping across the border from the NT in early 2009. Over the dry season they have steadily made their way to the outskirts of Kununurra and the western banks of Lake Argyle. The highway acts as an easy access point for toads with plenty of culverts and drains filled with water offering protection during the day.
Cane toads have an impact on animals as soon as they move into a new area. Goanna and quolls hunt the toads but are all quickly killed by the poison carried in the two glands on the toad’s shoulders. Other animals like the freshwater crocodile don’t disappear completely but their numbers become much smaller once the toads arrive.
The burrowing frog is common around this area, it lives under the ground for most of the year and when it rains comes back out to hunt and breed. They are large frogs and look a little bit like cane toads so some people think they are toads and kill them. It’s easy to tell the difference, the frog has smooth wet skin and hops; the toad has a dry rough skin with poison glands on its shoulders. When it moves it can jump only a little bit and often walks a bit like a goanna.
Identiying cane toads
Many of us are still a bit unsure of how to distinguish cane toads from our native frogs, here are five easy methods to determine if it’s a toad or not –
- Tips of fingers with discs (or suckers) » Not a cane toad.
- No ear drum can be seen » Not a cane toad.
- Fingers have webbing » Not a cane toad.
- No large lumps behind head on the shoulders » Not a cane toad.
- Eyes smooth with no large ridge or brow » Not a cane toad.
Last month, the State Government allocated $340,500 to the Kimberley Toad Busters as part of a $1.2 million election promise to support the fight against cane toads.
DEC will continue to work with community groups and local residents to slow the advance of cane toads towards Lake Kununurra, and to minimise the impact on landowners.
Information packs containing brochures to assist with identifying cane toads from local native frogs and recommendations for keeping the invasive species out of backyards have been distributed to communities in the East Kimberley
How you can help
If you find a cane toad call the DEC Regional Cane Toad Team on 9168 4200 or report it to the cane toad hotline 1800 084 881 (freecall).