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Grafton on canetoad alert after pest turns up in town

Nigel Blake from NSW Local Land Services with a cane toad found in Grafton. PHOTO: ADAM HOURIGAN
Nigel Blake from NSW Local Land Services with a cane toad found in Grafton. PHOTO: ADAM HOURIGAN

CANE toad experts will be out looking and listening for signs of the deadly pest after a nine-centimetre specimen turned up at a Grafton house this week.

Local Land Services personnel will be scouring the region around Alice St looking, and more importantly, listening, for the creatures.

Senior Land Services officer Nigel Blake said the find was disappointing news for the authorities who have been battling to keep cane toads out of the important Grafton wetlands.

But Mr Blake said there was a ray of hope that the find might be a one-off visitor brought into town from Yamba.

"The man who found the toad in a bucket in his home had been down in Yamba and we hope the toad hitched a ride back to Grafton in his ute," Mr Blake said.

"This is quite a common way for toads to get around the country."

He said the toads had a distinctive call like a generator engine or motorbike, which quickly indicated their presence.

Toads in Grafton would be concerning for people as the animals are lethal to dogs and cats, as well as other predators.

"They are really toxic and will kill anything that eats them, like a dog, cat, snake or a lizard, really quickly," Mr Blake said.

The property owner where the toad was found, Stuart Garland, said his wife found the toad in a bucket of water in their backyard.

At first he didn't believe her, but after seeing the amphibian and then consulting the internet, he was convinced.

"I really don't know how it would have got there," he said.

"We had been in Yamba on Friday gardening at our property, but that was in the middle of the day and all the tools were out in the middle of the yard, and we checked them when we came back.

"We've also never seen a cane toad in our garden down there; it all adds to the mystery."

Mr Blake said an Australian cane toad expert, Matt Greenlees, was in the area and would be enlisted in the hunt.

"He is trialling a new control method, tadpole trapping, which is a promising new weapon in controlling the spread of the animals," he said.

Mr Blake said cane toads appeared in the Yamba, Angourie and Brooms Head areas about 20 years ago, but their spread had been contained to keep them out of wetland areas.

Topics:  cane toads, editors picks, grafton, local land services



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