This file picture taken on April 26, 2005 shows a poisonous cane toad sitting on a keeper's hand at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney. Australia's reptiles, including lizards and snakes, are facing growing threats from invasive species and climate change, with seven percent on the verge of extinction, conservationists said on July 5, 2018. Another invasive species threatening Australia's reptiles, IUCN s
This file picture taken on April 26, 2005 shows a poisonous cane toad sitting on a keeper's hand at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney. Australia's reptiles, including lizards and snakes, are facing growing threats from invasive species and climate change, with seven percent on the verge of extinction, conservationists said on July 5, 2018. Another invasive species threatening Australia's reptiles, IUCN s

RSPCA says we can no longer kill adult cane toads

PUT away the golf club and don't use that bottle of Dettol. Far North Queenslanders are being urged to no longer kill adult cane toads.

In its submission to the Federal Government's inquiry into controlling the spread of cane toads across Australia, the RSPCA says the killing of adult toads is "problematic in terms of cost-efficiency, sustainability and humaneness".

The welfare organisation says traditional toad-controlling techniques such as blunt trauma (golf clubs) and chemical agents such as Dettol can result in undue pain and suffering of the introduced animals.

The RSPCA has advised that killing adult cane toads is inhumane.
The RSPCA has advised that killing adult cane toads is inhumane.

The RSPCA has instead suggested there should be more work done examining lethal control of the tadpole stage of the toxic amphibians.

The organisation's chief executive Heather Neil wrote that this could include: trapping tadpoles with a chemical attractant and then killing them via cooling and freezing, using a suppression pheromone on eggs or boosting native species predation of tadpoles.

"From an animal welfare perspective, there are less risks associated with eliminating pre-adult stages," she said.

"Furthermore, these approaches are likely to be more cost effective and sustainable with fewer negative environmental impacts."

She said gene editing of the invasive species, whereby genetically modified non-toxic toads could be introduced to quickly spread and replace toxic toads, also had merit.

"This approach has potential to mitigate animal welfare risks," she said.

"Although, much work is needed … regarding social acceptability of this technology, it is likely to be many years before this approach could be used practically."

Since they were released in Cairns in 1935 to control the spread of cane beetles, cane toads have conquered much of the Australian continent.

In his submission to the inquiry, Torres Strait Regional Authority chairman Pedro Stephen said the amphibians had become established on four inner islands, including Thursday, Horn, Prince of Wales and Hammond.

"Torres Strait communities are consequently concerned about the strong possibility of cane toads becoming established on more islands," he said.

"The 296 islands of the Torres Strait present a unique biodiversity refuge with species (mostly fauna) that would be considered significant at the state and national level."

A public hearing for the inquiry will be held in Canberra on Wednesday.