Friday, December 29, 2006

Toad War

I should have killed that toad at Mt. Glorious when I had a chance, but I had grown leery of killing things:
Environmentalists have asked Australia's military to wage war on cane toads, which have spread across the country's north in near-plague proportions.

The toads, introduced in a batch of 101 from Hawaii in 1935 in a failed bid to control native cane beetles, have spread 3,000 km (1,900 miles) from northeast Queensland to Darwin in Australia's tropical north. There are now more than 200 million.

"We need as many people on the ground as we can possibly get, and if the military can work out strategies for controlling toads on their ground, well that's fine with us," Frog Watch spokesman Ian Morris told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio on Wednesday.

Cane toads are one of Australia's worst environmental mistakes, ranking alongside the catastrophic introduction of rabbits.

The spread of the toads, whose skin is poisonous, has led to dramatic declines in populations of native snakes, goanna lizards and quolls. A quoll is a cat-sized marsupial.

Killing the hardy toads with anything from golf clubs to air rifles has become a northern Australian pastime, and their carcasses are turned into comic tourist ornaments and fertilizer.

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