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Wondering what reef conditions are like at a certain time of year? Look at previous Reef Reports to get an idea.
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Reef Report for Monday, March 12, 2007

Free Beer Offered as Bounty on Pesky Cane Toads

After writing these articles for 5 years I figured it was about time to write on what is unfortunately the most common animal in our backyard, Cane Toads.

What spurred me on was the international news coverage local multi-millionaire real estate developer and pub owner Tom Hedley has received for his offer of a beer bounty on Cane Toads.

Cane Toads are a pest in Queensland, and have spread in recent years into New South Wales and the Northern Territory. © City of Coffs Harbour Originally introduced long ago to control pests in cane fields, the toads moved on to easier prey, and have pretty much munched anything small enough to swallow, whether itís beetles, grubs, or the food we leave out for our cat.

Their effect on native wildlife has been enormous. The food they eat would have been eaten by native frogs and birds, so their numbers have declined. Native animals that prey on frogs and toads, like quolls, snakes and certain birds, have also had declines in their numbers; cane toads are toxic, unlike native frog and toad species, eating a cane toad will kill most native predators.

Lots of different control programs have been tried, with the only successes being very small scale. A diligent homeowner can keep their backyard free of cane toads, but thatís impossible for managers of national parks.

That brings us back to Tom Hedley and the beer bounty. While still in the planning stages, persons that brought a bag of live toads to the local RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) would receive a voucher for a beer, presumably at one of the pubs that Tom owns. A similar program has been instituted in the Northern Territory, which is trying to prevent Cane Toads from gaining a foothold there.

While I know that these toads are damaging the ecosystems here, killing them is another matter. Last week during a rainfall I went out in the backyard and picked up 40 of them in a few minutes. Neither my girlfriend nor I could kill them, even though we know they kill native wildlife and we had the means to do so humanely. We ended up letting them go on the front lawn, hoping that at least a few of them might hop over into someone elseís yard.

Now if Tom Hedleyís beer bounty program gets going I think I just might be able to head out and pluck a few beersí worth of toads out of the backyard, especially if itís going to earn me something cold to drink on a warm day!

Coverage of this story, from ABC Online .

Coverage of this story, from the UK Metro.

"Cane-Toad", a recently released online movie..

"Cane Toads", a hilarious movie that more or less accurately details the impact of Cane Toads on Australia.

Cane Toad Frequently Asked Questions.

Cane Toad fact sheet, from the Australian Museum.

Become a toadbuster!.

(C) DiveTheReef The weekly reef report is written by Joel Groberg of DiveTheReef.com, who compiles them from the many conversations he has with dive staff in the area, as well as† many other local sources in the dive community.

Index of all reef reports.

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