March 28, 2011

Annual Australian Event Kills 14,000 Cane Toads

North Queensland's third annual Toad Day Out has locals in Townsville, Charters Towers and Cairns hunting for the much hated cane toad.

This event was founded by Shane Knuth, Queensland state MP for Dalrymple after he lost a dog to a cane toad, reports AFP.

In 1935, cane toads were brought over to Australia from the Americas to help control scarab beetles that infested the sugar cane. They have grown to a population of more than 200 million, and scientists suggest that evolution is helping them to spread at a faster rate. Recent floods in Queensland have helped to increase the number of toads. AFP reports that Townsville locals have found up to 50 nocturnal creatures that are drawn to a single street light.

The cane toad carries a poisonous sac of venom that is deadly enough to kill snakes and crocodiles. They are regarded as pests and are considered harmful to the Australian environment.

The Toad Day Out was inspired by a Simpson's cartoon episode where residents were encouraged to beat snakes to death in its annual "whacking day," reports AFP. Queensland volunteers came together on Saturday night to help round up these toads, with Townsville leading the pack with 7,165 captures, followed by 3,776 in Charters Towers and 3,059 in Cairns.

"We collected up to 14,000 cane toads, that's 4,000 more than last year," Knuth told AFP. He also said that the Toad Day Out prevented millions of toad births by taking them out of the breeding game.

In the past, cane toads were killed by driving cars over them and smashing them with cricket bats, reports AFP.

But at this event, the toads were humanely euthanized. They were collected in bags, then CO2 was used to gas them and then they were frozen. The bodies were then "sold for skins, to make fertilizer, or used for university research," AFP reported Knuth saying.

Knuth says, "If you talk to anybody, the young, the old, they will have something in common: nobody likes the cane toad, there is nothing great about them."

Image Courtesy Wikipedia