Cane toads to get the flick

National Parks workers use nets to remove millions of baby cane toads from a pond in Byron Bay.
National Parks workers use nets to remove millions of baby cane toads from a pond in Byron Bay.

A major source of cane toads in Arakwal National Park in Byron Bay is being replaced with habitat for threatened local native frogs.

The important conservation project has started as hundreds of tiny young cane toads were recently removed from Arakwal National Park.

Works commenced to re-establish a more natural wetland for local threatened species, the Wallum Froglet and Wallum Sedge Frog.

National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) staff and the Byron Bay Arakwal people removed the pest cane toads from an old dredgepond left after the sandmining days located north-east of Honeysuckle Hill.

NPWS Byron Area Manager Sue Walker said that a frog survey identified this dredgepond as a major source of cane toads in Arakwal National Park and neighbouring residential areas.

The survey also found the pest mosquito fish Gambusia in high numbers.

"The mosquito fish was introduced to Australia in 1925 and has been identified as a key threatening process under the Threatened Species Conservation Act," she said.

"It is a serious threat to the survival of threatened frogs and could cause other native frogs to become threatened.

"It also affects other native species such as freshwater fish and invertebrates," Sue Walker said.

"This project has high conservation outcomes as it removes two pest species that are recognised in the scientific community as a major threat to our native animals and it also rehabilitates a wetland."

The frog survey was undertaken by ecologist Steve Phillips, who stated that 'Arakwal National Park is an important area for frogs.

"There are at least twelve species of native frogs, including significant populations of the threatened Wallum Froglet and Wallum Sedge Frog.

"Pests such as cane toads and mosquito fish that breed in the former sandmining dredge pond threaten these frogs.

"The pond needs to be regenerated to a wetland, thereby reducing breeding opportunities for pests.

"The dredgepond plays a major role in the continuous, bountiful supply of cane toads.

Cane toads are not only a significant threat to frog biodiversity but also to the survival of reptiles, birds and carnivorous mammals in the Park," Steve said.

The young cane toads will be humanely disposed of.

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