Cane toads


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The Kununurra Cane Toad Working Group: (CTWG)

Meeting Minutes 12 August 2005


Attendance: Gae Mackay, Gordon Graham, Karin Carnes, Liz Kirkby, Lee Scott-Virtue, Dick Pasfield, Matthew Scott, Sarah Brett, Scott Goodson, Des Hill

Apologies: Noel Wilson, Keith Wright, Gill Holmes

NB: Before meeting formally commenced, Gae Mackay reminded CTWG of the Terms of reference and the requirement of CALM to implement Government policy, in line with the Cane Toad initiative. Discussion followed regarding the role of community groups, the membership of the CTWG and the need to disseminate information to invited guests (responsibility of the person who invited the guest)

Outstanding action items:

    • CALM will be approaching the caravan parks in Kununurra in the next week to offer traps to the parks and further public awareness: Completed
    • The placement of traps will continue to be undertaken following liaison with appropriate landowners - On-going
    • CALM will be approaching the trucking companies in town to offer the use of traps and information. There will also be a cane toad display and trap at the Kununurra Show – Show display completed; Trucking and barge companies to be approached over next two weeks
    • Lee Scott Virtue is to put together the proposal for the use of volunteers to help control the spread of cane toads at the start of the wet season for consideration by the CTWG – Underway; Offer from CALM for funding a three-month Community Coordinator position accepted by Lee
    • The CTWG will be the group to coordinate the community input to the program
    • The CTWG to approach all relevant government agencies in Kununurra to gain endorsement of using the CTWG to coordinate the community response to the cane toads. To be followed up: Scott Goodson to seek DoE’s endorsement; Noel Wilson to seek DAWA endorsement; Matthew Scott to seek SWEK’s endorsement; CALM endorses action.
    • The CTWG to prepare a press release stressing the importance that all work carried out by the community on Cane toads is to be coordinated through the CTWG – Dick Pasfield will prepare draft press release, and circulate to CTWG members for comment
    • The CTWG to contact Anna Mardling, KLC in Broome, to find out what is happening with cane toads in the land and sea unit in Broome. Des Hill provided update of Land and sea Unit’s Cane Toad work (see below).
      • Cane Toad radio announcements due to commence on five community radio stations in near future
      • Final CT report is with Kirsten Willcox for sign off
      • An advertisement has been prepared, with KLC being the contact for additional educational materials
      • The cane toad educational material has a KLC copyright; reproduction by govt agencies, NGOs etc will require KLC approvals and logos.
      • Cane Toad educational material is being trialled by some groups before being finalised –Further action item: Karin Carnes to follow up with Anna to get a copy of Jean’s work.

DAWA Cane Toad Program – major achievements and accomplishments (summary provided by Karin Carnes)

  • Established cane toad team of five people, including getting equipment, sorting out contracts etc
  • Team undertook training in cane toad identification and handling
  • Protocols were established and documented, relating to what to do if/when cane toads were reported. Team then trialled protocols when responding to reports of suspected cane toads. In each case, the sightings were false alarms, but it assisted the team in refining their skills in frog/toad identification, as well as the protocols.
  • Cane Toad Team participated in the cane toad trap trials being organised by NT Parks and Wildlife/Dept Planning and Infrastructure. This assisted team in developing their toad handling skills, recording of data, placement of traps, observation techniques etc
  • Following the trap trials, the Frogwatch trap was identified as one of two approved designs. The Cane Toad Team further refined the trap design, and undertook further field tests on the traps.
  • Prior to an approved trap design being available, the cane toad team trialled a number of shelters in the field. The early indications are that the shelters were successful in attracting small toads that otherwise would not be trapped.
  • Liaison with a number of pastoral stations and land owners/managers commenced, allowing the team to undertake surveillance activities on properties in NT. Additionally, liaison with NT govt agencies also commenced.
  • The team’s efforts at Legune and other NT locations identified potential toad habitat and permanent water sources
  • Because of the Cane Toad Initiative being new, significant time and effort was put into setting up the team, establishing priorities and staff development/training.
  • Establishment of 1800 number for cane toad reports
  • Road signage erected in the NT
  • Press releases on the cane toad project
  • Development of the watchout for cane toad media package and media launch of this package.
  • Contacts established with Frog Watch, NT parks and Wildlife Department, local indigenous groups in WA and the NT
  • Employment of extra staff at the NT/WA border to increase the inspections of vehicles coming into WA.
  • Commenced mapping of cane toad reports and potential areas for cane toads to establish.

CALM Cane Toad Program –strategy, priorities, works programming etc

  • An outline of the CALM Cane Toad Strategy was presented by Karin Carnes
  • The Strategy is being finalised and will be circulated when approved by relevant agencies/bodies.
  • Principally, the strategy follows the original 4 targeted activities identified in the Government cane Toad Initiative:
    • Fight entry and establishment of toads into the Kimberley and the rest of WA
    • Biodiversity asset identification and protection
    • Public awareness of cane toad issues
    • Effective State-wide coordination of cane toad issues
  • A summary is provided as Appendix 1

Reported cane toad sightings:

  • Bradshaw Defence Lands NT: Gae Mackay explained the “challenges” of getting access to Department of defence Lands. Initially, 6 cane toads were reported and confirmed in the Bradshaw Defence Lands, approximately 50-60 km north of the Highway. Since the initial report, NT and CALM staff have been unable to again permission to access the site to undertake surveillance work, to determine the status of the toads there. However, unconfirmed reports have been received, indicating that it is likely that toads are still present and may be breeding. NT agency staff are liaising with Bradshaw abs the construction company that controls the site to gain access for further work. Once this occurs, a strategy for dealing with the toads (if confirmed) will be developed.
  • Aboriginal community outside of derby: An unconfirmed report of cane toad sightings was received from a reporter for the west Australian. However the named community denied all knowledge and said that no toads had been found there. No further action undertaken.
  • Kalumburu: A single thumb-nailed toad was reported (and subsequently frozen) at Kalumburu. However, this was found to be a native frog and not a toad. No further action.

Cane Toad Team Update Karin Carnes

  • Larry Ford has left the team and will be replaced by a new team member as soon as possible.
  • Andre Voegeli's ankle injury is improving and will hopefully allow him to return to fieldwork by the end of August.
  • Additional traps have been established E of Victoria River Bridge and near the Victoria River crossing at Coolibah Station.
  • Formats, protocols and procedures for data collection in the field have been developed and taken in the field by the team.
  • Information material has been supplied to the border checkpoint, roadhouses and caravan parks in Timber Creek, Victoria River roadhouse and caravan parks in Katherine.

CTWG: Role, relationship to State Group, local community links

  • Gae re-iterated the relationship between the CTWG, the State Cane Toad Advisory Group and the local community.
  • The CTWG is a group established to disseminate information, contribute to the State Cane Toad Strategy and bring community and government together.
  • The link between the CTWG and the State Group is through Dick Pasfield and Des Hill, who are the Kimberley representatives

Report back from State Cane Toad Advisory Group meeting

Dick Pasfield provided the following report from the recent State Cane Toad Advisory Group meeting

  • APB no longer chairing (new chair yet to be appointed).
  • Linkages with other groups (Save the Toads Foundation and CTWG, Dick And Des linkages with CTWG)
  • Trapping focus to date Vic River Bridge and environs.
  • Negotiations with Defence Dept and construction contractors on Bradshaw Station for access (Defence just concluded negotiations with TO’s).
  • Construction vehicles vector for toads? (unlikely as they have environmental protocols in place to reduce spread of weeds etc)
  • Negotiating to get Channel 9 footage shot with Ministers visit.
  • General discussion on traps including frequency of checking etc.
  • Minor changes to Draft Strategy including issues and objectives (strengthen the document, prioritise stopping toads over delaying the entry of…)
  • Indigenous sub group formed (Rob Thomas DIA to coordinate, Des nominated to participate) to look at Indigenous participation.
  • Federal Government press release 3M to biological control 600K to state (Question will feds match the 1.9M?)

Killing toads three approved methods

  • Community: fridge to freezer.
  • Agencies: Lethal injection and stunning and pithing.
  • Number of different techniques to kill large numbers of toads quickly be examined including CO2

Other business:

  • Russell Gueho report

The report from Russell Gueho was tabled as per his request. CTWG members had read the report, which was circulated prior to the CTWG meeting. Some brief discussion followed, but no significant comment was made. Generally it was felt that the matters raised by Russell had largely been addressed and/or refuted during earlier agenda items.

  • Community proposal

Discussion regarding the proposed community program included an indication that CALM’s offer of providing funding and support for a three-month Community Volunteer Coordinator would be accepted. The agreement was that CALM would host the position, if it were suitable to the CTWG and the community. Some discussion regarding employment arrangements was also raised. Lee Scott-Virtue presented an indication that the three-month funding may be leveraged through donations and other sources of funds to expand it into a 12-month position. Accordingly, it was raised that it may be better for an incorporated community group may be the more appropriate employment vehicle rather than CALM. Action: Lee Scott Virtue and Sarah Brett to develop a list of duties, identify possible suitable candidates for the position, and to identify possible employment hosting arrangements (with OLW or others?).

  • Additional $1m cane toad allocation

$500,000 has been provided by the State Government to the Stop the Toad Foundation, for use on on-ground actions including trapping in northern Australia. Some strings (yet to be confirmed) are attached to the funding. Further details will be circulated when available. A further $500,000 has been provided for improving public awareness of the cane toad (advertising, possible DVDs/ etc. Again, further details will be provided when available.

  • Stop the Toad Foundation

See above action item for Stop the Toad Foundation

  • Budget

$600,000 provided by State Government in 2004/05

$900,000 provided by State Government in 2005/06

$600,000 provided by Federal Government in 2005/06

A further $1m provided by State Government in 2005/06 as per above action item

A further $900,000 being sought from the Federal Government to match State funding

A request for details about where money has been/will be spent was made through the CTWG.

Action: Gae Mackay to provide a summary of funding/budget to the next CTWG meeting.

  • Community Grants Program

Gae Mackay raised the possibility of having a community grants program, whereby community groups may apply for funding to undertake small cane toad projects in the East Kimberley. Nothing has been determined at present. This item was raised as being a possibility under investigation.

  • Community Concerns (as raised by Lee Scott Virtue)

Lee Scott Virtue sent a request for a number of issues to be addressed at the CTWG meeting (see below).

1) This community wants some information on the fieldwork programme that AG. WA had in place prior to the transition to CALM taking on the position and this to be addressed to the KCTWG. 

2) This Community would like a transparent report from CALM presenting a clear future work program based on what has actually been achieved on the ground in the last six months by Ag. WA. and addressed to the KCTWG.

3) This community would like a cane toad strategy report from CALM on how they propose to use the volunteer program to manage and stop the cane toad front at the Victoria River.

4) This community would like CALM to address the urgent time frame they have identified to 'manage/stop' the cane toad front from crossing into WA.  

 Lee confirmed that the matters raised had already been addressed during the meeting.

  • Cane Toad video (NT)

Scott Goodson mentioned a DVD that had been made I NT regarding cane toad, and had been translated into a number of aboriginal languages. Discussions followed, regarding the possibility of producing something similar, using local languages. Karin Carnes mentioned she has a copy if anyone wanted to see it.

Action: Karin Carnes to follow up with NT and Chris Tallentire to see what was being proposed already.


Appendix 1: Summary of Cane Toad Operations Strategy

  Placement of traps at strategic locations

Current status (16 August 2005).

Existing trap locations in WA:

  • Caravan parks and trucking yards, Kununurra (6).
  • Lake Argyle Village (1).
  • WA-NT Border Checkpoint (1).

Existing trap locations in NT:

  • Keep River NP (3).
  • Ranger Station, Timber Creek (1).
  • Caravan parks, Timber Creek (2).
  • Victoria River roadhouse (2).

At the present rate of identification of potential trapping sites it is possible that a total of 110-160 traps will be in place by the end of the year and will include;

  • 40-60 secure traps with solar system and interpretational signage.
  • 30-40 field traps with solar system for locations not accessible by the public.
  • 40-60 field traps powered and serviced by various stakeholders and land managers.

It is planned that land managers and community members will service 50-70 of these traps with ongoing liaison, data collection and support. The cane toad team will service the remainder of 60-90 traps.

Proposed trap locations in WA to be established in 2005 will include backpackers and trucking yards in Kununurra, caravan parks and trucking yards in Wyndham, the barge landing areas in Wyndham and Kalumburu and caravan parks and camping facilities in Halls Creek, Fitzroy Crossing, Derby, Broome and along the Gibb River road.

Proposed trap locations in NT to be established in 2005 will include Victoria River bridge, a grid of traps 5 km W of Victoria River bridge, an increase of traps located in Gregory NP, the river crossing between Coolibah and Fitzroy Station, Legune, Bullo River and Auvergne Station, Bulla Community, West Baines and East Baines River, camping, parking and truck bays on Victoria Highway and Indigenous Communities in WA/NT border area (Cockatoo Spring, Police Hole and Bucket Spring), towards Legune (Spirit Hill, Kneebone and Marralum) and near Timber Creek (Line Creek, Muruning, Myatt and Gilwi)

2. Trapping, spotlighting and active searches

To investigate the existence of cane toad populations in response to reported possible sightings.

  • To investigate the existence of cane toad populations around permanent water points in areas of increased risk (permanent water points W of Victoria River bridge, permanent water points near Timber Creek).
  • To implement control on existing cane toad populations around selected permanent water points, in particular during the build up time of the wet season from August to December when cane toads tend to congregate close to permanent water points (Kiln Kiln wetland, Sullivan Creek, Coolibah Station).

Determine through experience in the field  

  • Options and effectiveness of different trap designs and light sources.
  • Options and effectiveness of fences including fences in combination with traps, exclusion fencing (Kiln Kiln wetland) and fencing and road grid to halt cane toad movement (Jasper Gorge or Paperbark Creek).
  • Average effort needed to clear cane toad populations from a wetland (including total stuff hours, trap nights, equipment needs etc.).

4. Ongoing Surveillance

  • Detect and monitor cane toad movement and determine possible crossing points of expected movements on Victoria River.
  • Investigate options and data retrieval methods for the use of acoustic towers and strategic positions for their placement.
  • Trial the use of digital recording devices while investigating the presence of cane toad populations in high-risk areas.

5. Data management and GIS

  • Develop and maintain formats, protocols and procedures for data collection in the field as well as a reporting system of cane toad sightings.
  • Collate data in a GIS based database system ensuring consistency and availability of data and supporting map production.
  • Investigate options to identify permanent water points between the WA/NT border and the Victoria River through interpretation of satellite imagery.

6. Border Security

  • Ongoing training of border staff to ensure all vehicles are checked for cane toads and relevant information passed on.
  • Information and handouts available for every vehicle passing the border.
  • Interpretation material is on display.
  • Development of a set of standardised procedures and protocols.

7. Development of new information materials

  • Interpretation signage provide at all trap sites with public access.
  • Information hand out cards.
  • Fridge magnets.
  • Newsletters.
  • Brochures.
  • DVDs.
  • Website support.
  • Notices for ablution areas in Caravan parks asking public to report suspected toads to CALM/1800 number.

8. Distribution of information materials

  • Border checkpoint.
  • Roadhouses.
  • Caravan parks.
  • Backpackers.
  • Post Office mailbox drops.
  • Schools.
  • Library.

9. Prepare media extension to raise public awareness

  • State, local and community newspapers.
  • Radio adds (including local language on Indigenous radio stations).
  • Interviews on local radio.

10. Ongoing liaison

  • Provide executive support to the East Kimberley Cane Toad Working Group.
  • Liaise with land managers and stakeholders for approvals and cooperation of team activities.
  • Liaise with and support community groups to ensure strategic cooperation and coordination of activities.
  • Liaise with local businesses to achieve support in form of monitoring, trapping and sponsorship of activities and traps.
  • Liaise with agencies and transport companies in the NT to ensure biosecurity standards are met at loading areas for trucks servicing WA and barges entering Wyndham and Kalumburu.
  • Continual exchange of new knowledge and findings (Universities, Research, FrogWatch).
  • Formalise CALM contacts for 1800 toad reports around the State and protocols for toad reports (documentation, procedures, results of investigations).


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