Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Australian study says fences could halt cane toad menace

3 February 2015 Last updated at 23:52

Special fences built around dams in arid parts of Australia could help eradicate the menace of cane toads, according to new research.

The toads, regarded as poisonous pests, are drawn to the dams by the need for water and die in large numbers if fences hold them back, scientists said.

The animals were brought to Australia in the 1930s to get rid of beetles.

They have since spread from Queensland into the Northern Territories, New South Wales and Western Australia.

Their numbers have grown because they have almost no natural predators and their toxins kill native animals that normally feed on frogs.

Various methods to eradicate the toads have been tried, including mass culls by teams of volunteers, but have only had limited success.

Now a study led by experts at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) says toad-proof fences around dams may stem their spread because most areas the toads will invade in future are semi-arid or arid.

The dams are built to provide water for livestock but are a magnet for the toads.

Numbers "suppressed"

Researchers built small fences from shade cloth around three dams in the Victoria River region of the Northern Territory and maintained them for a year.

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