FACT SHEET: NUMBER THREE
KTB WET & DRY SEASON TOADBUSTING STRATEGY
KTB incorporated objectives are:
- Protect the biodiversity and natural habitats of the Kimberley from the cane toad;
- Prevent cane toads from entering Western Australia through the Kimberley region by on ground action organised and directed from Kununurra;
- Provide scientific research about cane toads and to set up a scientific database about cane toads;
- Promote ideas and actions, which will enhance people’s understanding and enjoyment of, and willingness to protect the natural environment and landscape from cane toads;
- Support the Kimberley Toad Buster volunteers by accepting donations and undertaking fundraising for their outgoing costs, safety equipment; and ensuring that adequate insurance cover is taken out by the volunteers but acknowledging that the Association must ensure that each volunteer is aware that she or he is responsible for ensuring that they are insured against injury and property damage incurred on any volunteer activities undertaken on behalf of the Association; and
- Acquiring, storing and keeping secure all equipment loaned, donated or purchased for the volunteer toad busting activities.
KTB STRATEGIES INCLUDE YEAR ROUND TOADBUSTING
One of the KTB strategic objectives is to slow the cane toads and minimise cane toad numbers at the invading front lines throughout the year. This ensures that risks to native biodiversity from high cane toad invasion numbers are reduced, thereby giving our fauna a chance to survive the invasion, and slow the toads down in the hope we find a biological solution.
Another KTB strategic objective is to better understand the invading cane toad. Understanding is always part of the solution.
KTBs have mapped the invading front lines, recorded the length and gender of every mature toad caught, and recorded toad abnormalities and any other information KTBs believe could be relevant to finding a solution to the cane toad problem.
KTBs have also facilitated and sponsored researchers working towards understanding the full impact of cane toads on our native biodiversity as well as those researchers working in areas of research most likely to find a biological solution.
KTB DRY SEASON TOAD BUSTING STRATEGY
Catching adult cane toads at the westerly moving cane toad invasion front in the dry season is done at night, when toads emerge from their day refuges to congregate at water sources to rehydrate.
Toads might emerge only every third or so day, and so repeated toadbusting of a site is needed for eradication. Breeding is not just a wet season activity because toads are opportunistic breeders, and so careful reconnaissance is required during the dry season to ensure that any new breeding is toadbusted.
KTBs undertake prior reconnaissance (twelve months of the year) to determine where the front line toads are, where the breeding colonies have been established and where toads are then likely to travel, so as to predict the most likely locations where toads will settle and breed. Monitoring wet season cane toad activity is crucial for any successful dry field strategy. It is also critical in any understanding of where cane toad corridors have been established and where to focus dry season toad busting. Without this wet season knowledge of cane toad activity, it is impossible to establish an effective dry season strategy adapted to the invasion.
The dry season climate is also a great help to the KTBs because much of the wet season breeding is knocked out by a water body simply drying out, which can be up to 80% of the wet season breeding sites. The KTB strategy includes identification of permanent dry season water bodies, which vary from year to year. KTBs field work has confirmed existing understanding of cane toads, which is that they prefer human disturbed and produced environments.
Our KTB field strategy is focused on ensuring that all potential aquatic systems ahead of the cane toad front are monitored and that measures are taken to ensure that we know when the toads arrive.
WET SEASON KTB TOAD BUSTING STRATEGY
While cane toads are generally opportunistic breeders, in NT they appear to need the wet season to breed, thus thinning the front lines requires work in our set season to destroy or at least thin out the breeding results.
Toadbusting in the wet season is more difficult because of the:
- Wet and boggy terrain
- Heat and humidity
- Reduced access because of inundated terrain
Why is Wet Season Toad Busting So Important?
In the wet season KTBs can:
- Track and pinpoint cane toads as them move along flooded waterways, roads and connecting wetland systems.
- Constantly monitoring toad movements is critical for effective placement of toadbusting teams
- Eradicate toad breeding outcomes by collecting or spraying cane toad eggs, tadpoles and metamorphs (dry season busting is primarily directed at mature advancing cane toads)
- Change cane toad breeding choices (it appears from KTB field observations that cane toads prefer not to rebreed in areas that are completely busted – Is there a pheromone alert put out by the female toad?
- Wet season toad busting reduces the likelihood and/or size of new colonisations and thins invading numbers
- Improves understanding of the invading cane toad behaviour by simple repeated observation
- Informs upcoming dry season strategic direction