My View: Capital delves into the heart of a warty problem

Capital delves into the heart of warty issue

As someone who once sat on a cane toad as a child, I am no defender of the beast.

We were playing spotlight in suburban Brisbane. It was dark.

I had the perfect hiding spot and was prepared for a long wait, until I lowered my backside. It collided with a large toad.

It's hard to know who was more repulsed and outraged, and I did not win spotlight.

Growing up in Queensland, I was more than familiar with the blobs in the dark, and convinced any contact would result in warts.

Other kids in the neighbourhood found them useful for cricket practice.

Adults who thought themselves humane would put them in bags in the freezer. My parents didn't go in for that sort of thing.

Then, a little later, I watched the documentary Cane Toads: An Unnatural History. The images of enormous cane toads as playmates and surrogate dolls remains with me to this day.

They are magnetically repellant. They are epic. They have become, sadly, Australian.

As a resident of Cairns, I can remember enjoying an evening at a pub near Innisfail in a cane paddock, and looking out the door to see hundreds and hundreds of toads, advancing quietly.

They are magnetically repellant. They are epic. They have become, sadly, Australian. They are advancing, every bit as determinedly as they laid seige to that pub.

Some would think they have long been at home in Canberra, at least in Parliament House, but the truth is they are still huddling on the fringes, showing up attached to a semi, quietly cursing because they thought they were en route to Sydney.

I suppose that's why the House Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy has just released a report into controlling the spread of cane toads.

"Unless we take action, one small hop for a cane toad might turn into a giant leap for their kind," chair of the committee Dr David Gillespie announced, apparently with a straight face.

The solution? That funding be made available for various practical control measures. One wonders how long it took to get to that conclusion.

More helpfully, it has endorsed methods other than cricket bats and plastic bags - establishing a waterless no-go zone between the Kimberley and Pilbara, various other efforts intended to stop toads reaching untouched areas; and expanded use of cane toad tadpole traps.

It's time to stop the march of the cane toad. The war is on. 

Don't be surprised if you are called on to stand sentry.

Just as long as you don't have to sit.

Marie Low is an ACM journalist