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Last Updated: Monday, 11 April 2005, 04:28 GMT 05:28 UK
Australia MP targets toxic toads
By Phil Mercer
BBC News, Sydney

cane toad
Whack it or slug it, says Mr Tollner
An Australian MP has caused a stir by suggesting a brutal method of controlling the spread of cane toads in the country's Northern Territory.

David Tollner, a Liberal Party MP from the area, urged people to kill the poisonous amphibians with cricket bats and golf clubs.

There could be as many as 100m cane toads in Australia, and they are considered a highly dangerous pest.

Efforts to eradicate them have so far failed to make an impact on numbers.

Toxic skins

Cane toads are big, ugly creatures, introduced into Australia more than 70 years ago to try to stop cane beetles destroying crops.
We hit them with cricket bats... most kids had a slug gun and we would get stuck into them with that sort of thing as well
David Tollner

The experiment has been a disaster.

The population of these toxic amphibians has exploded and they're advancing up to 50km (30 miles) every year.

Last month, they reached the outskirts of Darwin.

Fresh water crocodiles, dingoes and kangaroos have died after eating their highly toxic skins.

Hit or freeze?

The Northern Territory government responded by launching a competition to find the best way of trapping cane toads.

David Tollner's own rather drastic solution owes much to the way the problem was tackled when he was a child.

"We hit them with cricket bats, golf clubs and the like," he told ABC radio.

"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.

"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."

Animal welfare groups have said Mr Tollner's idea is inhumane. They recommend putting cane toads into a freezer until they die.

A special campaign is also under way to protect endangered species such as the northern quoll from this escalating environmental menace.

A DVD advising the community how to repel the threat posed by cane toads has been translated into six indigenous languages as the Northern Territory prepares for an onslaught.

Australia hunts down toxic toads
07 Feb 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Toxic toads threaten north Australia
19 Jan 01 |  Asia-Pacific
Snakes bite back at poison toads
08 Dec 04 |  Science/Nature

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