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Politician urges open season on cane toads

Australians in the Northern Territory should start beating cane toads to death with golf clubs and cricket bats in a bid to stop the spread of the toxic creatures, a government politician urged on Monday.
A poisonous cane toad sits in a jar before feeding time at Sydney's Taronga Zoo
A poisonous cane toad sits in a jar before feeding time at Sydney's Taronga Zoo.David Gray / Reuters file
/ Source: Reuters

Australians in the country’s Northern Territory should start smashing cane toads to death with golf clubs and cricket bats in a bid to stop the spread of the toxic creatures, a government politician urged on Monday.

David Tollner, the member for the Northern Territory seat of Solomon, said the cane toads -- which have highly poisonous sacs behind their head that quickly kill native animals that prey on them -- should be eradicated by “any means possible.”

Australia has for decades fought unsuccessfully to stop the spread of cane toads, imported from Hawaii in 1935 in a failed attempt to combat greyback beetles which were threatening the country’s tropical northern sugar cane fields.

“(When I was a child) we hit them with cricket bats, golf clubs and the like. Things were a bit different, most kids had a slug gun or an air rifle and we would get stuck into them with that sort of thing as well,” Tollner told Australian radio.

“If people could be encouraged to do it rather than discouraged the better the chance will be of stopping the cane toads arriving in Darwin and other parts of northern Australia.”

Cane toads, which now number in their millions, are so toxic that crocodiles, death adder snakes and wild dingo dogs can die of cardiac arrest within 15 minutes of eating a toad.

Australia’s cane toad population now spreads west from the northeast coastal sugar cane fields into the fragile wetlands of Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory and are steadily marching towards the territory’s tropical capital city of Darwin.

Animal welfare groups discouraged people from taking up Tollner’s call to arms, saying freezing the animals to death was more humane.

“We don’t want children picking up their golf club or their cricket bat in the backyard and having a go at any animal,” a spokeswoman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) told Australian radio.

Female cane toads can lay 8,000 to 35,000 eggs at a time and may produce two clutches a year. The toads reach maturity within a year and have a lifespan of at least five years.