Calling all cane toad warriors: an army of volunteers is being sought to help fight the steady march of cane toads across the Tweed Coast.
Tweed Shire Council has joined forces with not-for-profit community environment group Watergum to launch the Tweed Toad Busters program aimed at stopping the advance of cane toads on the Tweed Coast before they have a chance to breed and multiply.
The citizen science program will run from October 2021 to April 2022 and will target cane toads at every life stage, from tadpole trapping to toad busting.
Toad busting involves collecting adult specimens in buckets and removing them from the environment. Those adults are then used by Watergum to produce pheromone lures which attract cane toad tadpoles into special traps.
The first event of the program will be held online at 7 pm on Thursday 7 October. It will involve an online training session via a Facebook live event, followed by a week-long challenge to compete against others to collect the most cane toads, with great prizes up for grabs for the winners.
Participants will learn about cane toads and their devastating impacts on the environment and will also be trained in effective and humane control methods. Future sessions will involve meeting in-person at locations across the Tweed Coast to undertake cane toad control in affected areas (pending any COVID-19 restrictions at the time).
Council’s Project Officer – Wildlife Protection Emily Clarke said the aim of Tweed Toad Busters was to get the community on board to help with cane toad management, particularly on the Tweed Coast.
“Council is looking for regular volunteers who can spare a couple of hours to reduce cane toad numbers because if we all work together we will achieve greater results,” Ms Clarke said.
“The citizen science component of this program is particularly important so we can track toad numbers over time and work to make sure the Tweed isn’t overrun with toads in the future.
“It’s also an opportunity to meet like-minded people, get a bit of exercise and do something positive for your community and the environment.”
Watergum’s Invasive Species Manager Emily Vincent said research has shown regular and thorough toad busting activities is the most successful method of cane toad control currently available.
“Each female cane toad can lay up to 70,000 eggs per year, so removing adults from the environment before they can breed can have a big impact on their breeding capacity,” Ms Vincent said.
“Cane toads are now well established in 4 Australian states and are able to access the land through private properties, evading pest management workers. It is important the community bands together to find and eradicate this invasive pest.
“Toad busting is a fun activity for the whole family and is a chance to get out in nature for a walk while helping to make a difference to rid the region of this pest.”