This fairly innocent looking creature has been an environmental disaster.
This map shows both the current situation and the predicted distribution.
A few years ago, an Australian Minister of Parliament from the Northern Territory sparked outrage from animal welfare groups, and probably a chuckle of recognition and commiseration among everyone else, with his comments on cane toads. David Tollner, the lawmaker in question, urged people on Australian radio to club toads to death with golf clubs and cricket bats, remarking these methods were commonplace when he was a young man, and he had partaken in such activities himself. For anyone who has had to deal with these insufferable creatures, they know where Tollner is coming from, even if they do not agree with his method of extermination.
Before 1935, Australia did not have any toad species of its own. What the country did have however, was a major beetle problem. Two species of beetles in particular, French's Cane Beetle and the Greyback Cane Beetle, were in the process of decimating the state of Queensland's sugar cane crops. The beetle's larvae were eating the roots of the sugar cane and stunting, if not killing, the plants. The anticipated solution to this quickly escalating problem came in the form of the cane toad. After first hearing about the amphibians in 1933 at a conference in the Caribbean, growers successfully lobbied to have the cane toads imported to battle and hopefully destroy the beetles and save the crops.
In early 1935, a box containing 102 toads from Hawaii -- one place that had already brought in the amphibians for a similar purpose -- arrived in Gordonvale, a small town just south of Cairns. After a short time in captivity, the population had multiplied to reach 3000, and in July of 1935, the cane toads were released into the fields. Initially, some naturalists and scientists warned of the risks in loosing the toads and protested. After a brief moratorium, the releases resumed in 1936. Australians, know the rest all too well.
The plan backfired completely and absolutely. As it turns out, cane toads cannot jump very high, only about two feet actually , so they did not eat the beetles that for the most part lived in the upper stalks of cane plants. Instead of going after the beetles, as growers had planned, the cane toads began going after everything else in sight--insects, bird's eggs and even native frogs. And because the toads are poisonous, they began to kill would-be predators.
The toll on native species has been immense.
Another humane method of getting rid of cane toads that I can personally vouch for is to arm yourself with a spray bottle filled with “Detol”, I believe any similar antiseptic would work, a roam around your chosen hunting ground at night with a torch and the spray bottle will yield the desired prey if you have a cane toad infestation, all that is required are a few droplets of the spray (you don’t need to drown them) to contact the skin of the toad which then simply hops away calmly (but not very far) the bodies will be found next morning stiff dead and without any decaying smell. We never encountered any problem with birds or animals eating the carcass’ and being poisoned, maybe because of the antiseptic smell on the bodies????Nor should we ignore the opportunity to destroy the strings of eggs which are laid in shallow water along the banks of dams, in old rainwater tanks or any suitable puddle the toads can find, all that is required here is to drag the eggs onto dry land where they cannot hatch.
I have included this photo only as an illustration of how large these toads can grow given the ideal circumstances.