Cane toads were first introduced into Australia, on a cane farm south of Cairns, in 1935 in a notorious failure to control cane beetles.
Cane toads were first introduced into Australia, on a cane farm south of Cairns, in 1935 in a notorious failure to control cane beetles.

Cane toad penalty system too hard to regulate

QUEENSLANDERS will not be fined for failing to prevent cane toads from spreading further across the state, with the government saying such a system would be too hard to regulate.

A petition that attracted 360 signatures, tabled last month in state parliament, called upon the government to include the cane toad on Queensland's Declared Pest list, in order for specific offences to be applied to people that encouraged the toxic amphibians to thrive.

"This species is heinously detrimental to local flora and fauna, and must be recognised as such," principal petitioner Kevin Hodgson wrote.

"Steps must then be taken to begin the eradication process."

While cane toads can have a devastating impact on native animals, they are currently not specifically listed as restricted or prohibited animals under the state's Biosecurity Act.

Toads are, however, still considered a significant pest in Queensland.

Responding to the petition, Agriculture Minister Mark Furner said encouragement of community activities, education and public awareness about the negative impact of the invasive animal was the preferred government intervention, rather than the imposition of enforced measures and penalties.

"Cane toads have spread to most areas of mainland Queensland and are common in most environments, including backyards," he said.

"It would therefore not be appropriate to apply specific actions or offences to every Queenslander through regulation as restricted matter.

"It is unlikely that the imposition of offence provisions would significantly reduce the impact or spread of cane toads within Queensland."

The cane toad, which was introduced onto a cane property near Gordonvale in 1935 in a notoriously failed attempt to control cane beetles, has since gone on to conquer much of the Australian continent.

A federal inquiry earlier this year found there was no easy solution to stopping the spread of the amphibians, and that it would be unlikely the animals would ever be removed entirely from our shores.

Mr Furner said everyone had a general biosecurity obligation to take reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risks associated with preventing cane toads from spreading further in Australia.