Killing toads is great fun for the whole family, expert says
DID you know that killing toads is not only good for the environment but it is also fun?
That's what Conservation Volunteers engagement officer Tracey French says, although she does admit to squealing on the odd occasion.
"It's something local, fun and unique, and not everyone can brag about having 11 years of catching 54,205 thus far," she said.
For those keen for a sport with a difference, today is the start of Gladstone's Toadbusters' season.
Ms French said most people didn't have many hours to spare each week to volunteer, so this was a good option.
"One hour a week out with the kids - it's cheap entertainment really," she said.
Those who don't list toads among their preferred quarry can still benefit.
"Squeamish people make the best toad spotters, toad counters and bag holders," Ms French said.
"They don't squirt poison two metres out of the air, they just ooze it."
The activity's benefits are three-fold - community engagement, helping the environment and helping science.
"Captured toads are put into a freezer where their natural inclination is to hibernate.
"Once frozen, selected toads are collected ... and scrutinised for signs of malformation," she said.
Gladstone's warm and humid climate makes a comfortable home for toads.
Add to that plenty of parklands, ponds and food and they're on to a winner.
Dr Scott Wilson said the toadbuster program was about management rather than eradication.
"What we see this time of year is toads after winter coming back out of their burrows and start feeding," he said.
"The numbers really reflect what happens weatherwise in the last summer."
The Toadbusters program meets once a week and is successful in reducing the number of toads in the region.
"We do find it has an effect locally, in those areas where they're collected, and definitely towards the end of the season," Dr Wilson said.
"The problem with toads, unfortunately, is that one female can release up to 30,000 eggs at time.
"The survival rate is quite low. By reducing the adult numbers, we do reduce the numbers of offspring."
The condition of toads also indicates the health of waterways.
According to 18-year-old Cameron Slater, nearly half of the Toadbusters crew is scared of toads, but that doesn't stop them from doing the job or having a good time.
Cameron first heard about Toadbusters last year when Conservation Volunteers engagement officer Tracey French came to his school.
He started straight away and has been going ever since.
"I can't wait for it to begin. Nearly every time I see Tracey I ask, 'When is Toadbusting on again?'," he said.
Cameron said it was a great social activity for all ages - his eight-year-old sister is also involved.
"I've made four or five friends already," Cameron said.
For Cameron, being part of Toadbusters is all about helping the environment.
"I like getting rid of the toads, and basically looking after the environment," he said.
"It's pretty awesome. You just have to put a toad in the plastic bag, and just freeze it."
- 6.30pm barbecue on Tuesday at Reg Tanna Duck Pond, 7pm toading
- Wear long shirts, long trousers, and sturdy footwear
- Supplied: bags, torches, glasses and gloves
- Get involved. Call 4972 4969