YOURE BUSTED: A handful of baby cane toads collected in a previous cane toad muster. Byron Shire residents are being encourage
YOURE BUSTED: A handful of baby cane toads collected in a previous cane toad muster. Byron Shire residents are being encourage

Its toad-busting time in Byron Shire

BYRON Shire Council's biodiversity extension officer, Wendy Neilan, doesn't know what it is about cane toads that makes people love to catch them.

But if the prospect of picking up a cane toad fails to make you queasy, Ms Neilan said the council could certainly use your help.

Cane toad-busting residents will soon have the chance to take part in a cane toad muster, the first in a series of musters to be held through the current summer breeding period.

The idea was inspired by the overwhelming community support for the 2006 Byron Bay cane toad muster.

"It became like a family event. It seemed to be something people enjoyed doing and they felt they were doing good for the environment too," Ms Neilan said.

The Byron Bay cane toad muster is based on a model in the Northern Territory called Toadbusters, which involves reducing cane toad populations by volunteers manually collecting toads from priority sites, such as high conservation areas.

"If we ad-hoc collected them all over the place we may not make much of an impression," Ms Neilan said.

"But if we collect them at certain times and places we may be able to eliminate the population there."

The council is calling for volunteers from Fern Beach, North Ocean Shores and South Golden Beach to participate in the first cane toad muster at Fern Beach% over two nights, on February 15 and 16.

They are also holding a free Frog and Toad seminar on February 9 to show how to accurately identify cane toads and native frogs.

Ms Neilan said cane toads had been in the Byron Shire since the 1960s, but since that time their numbers had continued to increase and spread.

"If we can eliminate populations in certain areas we want to see how that affects biodiversity, such as the impact on the native frog population," she said.

Because the cane toad muster is conducted at night, volunteer toad busters aged between 11 and 16 need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Volunteers need to register for both events via the council's website at www.byron.nsw.gov.au/toadcontrol, or by completing a registration form which can be left at the council administration building in Mullumbimby.



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