Cane toad found on WA coast

By AAP with AG Staff 21 July 2010
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A stowaway cane toad makes it all the way to Broome in Western Australia.

WEST AUSTRALIANS ARE URGED to keep a look-out for rogue cane toads after one of the pests was found to have hitched a ride across the border, ending up in Broome this week.

A Broome resident discovered the cane toad on Monday morning in a shed in a light industrial area of the Kimberley town and alerted the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC).

District Nature Conservation co-ordinator Sharon Ferguson says it appears the Queensland pest had been accidentally transported across the WA and Northern Territory border.

“It’s possible that the toad may have hitched a ride by hiding in road freight, a caravan or another vehicle,” Sharon says. “There are vehicle checks in place at the WA-NT border, but the toads are not always easily found as they are very good at hiding in small spaces.”

Crafty stowaways

Professor Rick Shine from the University of Sydney agrees this is a possibility. “It’s true that toads are very adept at stowing away, and I think it’s inevitable that toads will be turning up all over Australia,” he says.

“The big challenge is to find the populations and exterminate them before they can breed,” Rick told Australian Geographic. “They are very resilient creatures; capable of surviving in areas I thought would be way too dry – Longreach and Windorah in Central Queensland for example.”

Sharon says that people travelling across the WA border need to be vigilant in checking vehicles and equipment to make sure cane toads are not brought into the state.

“As cane toads continue to advance further west into WA, the chances of cane toads hitching lifts on vehicles or freight are likely to increase,” she says.

Cane toads are currently found about 35 km west of the WA and NT border, and DEC said they are continuing to work with community groups and local residents to slow the advance of the invasive amphibians.