Cane Toad Invasion

The Cane Toad Invasion

The Problem

The historic introduction of 100 Cane Toads to Australia in 1935 began a battle of unforeseen proportions for the indigenous species of the land (See invasion graphic >).  The toads were brought over from Hawaii with the intention of setting them loose upon the beetles that were destroying the Sugar Cane crops.  Instead of being the agricultural heroes everyone touted them to be, the toads ignored the beetles and proceeded to destroy native species at an alarming rate.  Documentaries like “Cane Toads: The Conquest” and “Cane Toads: An Unnatural History” have shown the relentless path of destruction these miniature monsters are creating; and anyone who has watched these can tell you how hopeless the battle used to seem to the people of Australia.  Now a ray of hope has come.

These toads are successful because they reproduce very quickly, are toxic to eat, and are able to spray poison at their attackers.   They also are not choosey about their diet – eating both living and dead matter with equal enthusiasm.  Nothing in the natural environment of Australia was equipped to handle this cranky and ever hungry amphibian and it is considered one of the most invasive species on the continent.

image by: BillWaller

image by: BillWaller

The Cure

After two generations of trying to find a way to battle the voracious beastie, scientists have discovered that the toads will die if they do not have water at least every three days.  To combat them, they set up small fences around all available sources of water in an infested area – fences just high enough to prevent the toads from jumping over them, and with underground cloth barriers to prevent burrowing.  After the first experiment showed remarkable success with the fence lines full of dead and dying toads, this method will be used across the country.   Such a simple solution was only made possible by the constant study and research of the toad behavior and dietary habits.    The millions of Australian residents, both human and non-human will now finally make headway in their war against this creature.

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