Kim Chance

Kim Chance

Minister for Agriculture and Food; Forestry; the Mid West and Wheatbelt; Great Southern

Judy Edwards

Judy Edwards

Former Minister for the Environment; Science

    $1.5million to fight cane toad invasion

    4/06/2005 12:00 AM

    Western Australia’s war on cane toads has been bolstered by a further $900,000 allocation in the State Budget.

    Environment Minister Judy Edwards and Agriculture Minister Kim Chance said the funding brought to $1.5million the State Government had committed to the fight against cane toads since December.

    The initiative highlighted the State’s commitment to tackle the environmental, agricultural and social threats posed by cane toads - one of the most successful invasive species the world has seen.

    “WA is the only State to have actively begun control and monitoring operations ahead of cane toads invading the State, and we are committed to keeping them out of WA for as long as possible,” Dr Edwards said.

    “The funding will significantly help strengthen WA’s defences against this destructive species and follows the allocation of $600,000 for cane toad management in December, 2004.

    “We look forward to the Commonwealth Government honouring its commitment to match State contributions as it has indicated it would in the past.”

    Dr Edwards, who was addressing a cane toad forum in Perth today, said the State funding would further support the Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) and the Department of Agriculture (DAWA) to deliver and implement the State Cane Toad Initiative in the Northern Territory and across WA.

    “The Cane Toad Initiative focuses on five main components - advance trapping, quarantine and control, biodiversity asset protection, public awareness and education, and State-wide co-ordination,” she said.

    The Minister said measures under the Cane Toad Initiative included:
    • developing and implementing a pre-emptive trapping program in the Northern Territory, including further trials and development of trap designs;
    • significantly strengthening quarantine arrangements on the WA/NT border to capture hitch-hiking toads;
    • mapping the NT distribution and key dry season refuges that can be the focus of control efforts;
    • identifying east Kimberley biodiversity hotspot assets at risk from toads; and
    • producing information material for the broad community to raise awareness of the looming cane toad menace.
    The Government also was exploring the possibility of using ‘sniffer dogs’.

    “Dogs have been used in Queensland to find the introduced red eared slider turtle that escaped from aquariums and into the wild,” Dr Edwards said.

    “We see little reason why dogs could not be trained to track cane toads.”

    Mr Chance said CALM and DAWA had been working closely with the NT Government to establish targeted control programs in the Territory and further co-operative programs were being developed.

    “An important measure has been the establishment of a WA cane toad surveillance and control team based in Kununurra,” he said.

    “This five-person team has been conducting the surveillance and control actions, and is responsible for investigating cane toad reports in the East Kimberley and Victoria River region of the NT.

    “Areas monitored for the presence of toads by the team include border cattle stations in the NT and settlements such as Kalkarijin and Amanbji. Most reports of toads to date have been false alarms.

    “The surveillance team has so far covered approximately 25,000km in their travels and identified 120 waterholes, ponds and swamps that have been GPS-marked and have inspected approximately 55 waterways.

    “The surveillance team is also working closely with its NT counterparts to test a range of toad traps and recently undertook trapping trials at Coolibah Station in the NT. The traps caught large numbers of toads, but some traps had design flaws which allowed captured toads to escape.”

    Mr Chance, who was in Broome to launch a new public awareness campaign on cane toads as an integral part of the Cane Toad Initiative, said it was important that people knew how to identify cane toads from other species, what to do when they saw one and whom to notify.

    “Community action and involvement is essential and the State Government has been encouraged by the wide support and interest from the community in dealing with this issue,” he said.

    “In particular, the State Cane Toad Advisory Committee and Kimberley Cane Toad Working Group have provided avenues for community consultation, advice and involvement in developing the proposed State Cane Toad Strategy.

    “DAWA has also established a cane toad report telephone hotline, 1800 084 881, for people who have located toads in WA.

    “The State Government also will be releasing information packages to help facilitate greater community awareness and targeted education programs and actions over the coming weeks.”

    Office of the Minister for Environment - 9220 5050
    Office of the Minister for Agriculture - 9213 6700