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Cane toad's own toxins being used to fight back against pest

Science-based cane toad traps that use the pests’ own toxin against them are being rolled out across the Hinze Dam catchment.

Seqwater has stepped up its fight to protect biodiversity from cane toads by becoming involved in an innovative research project focussed on the natural pest management of cane toads.

Seqwater takes an innovative approach to protect biodiversity.

The initiative, called the Cane Toad Challenge, is headed up by Professor Rob Capon, a Professorial Research Fellow and Group Leader at The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

Professor Capon has developed cane toad tadpole trapping technology that uses a natural toad pheromone to lure toad tadpoles into a trap.

The trapping technology was created after scientists discovered cane toad tadpoles were drawn to a chemical attractant released by toad eggs.

After isolating and identifying the chemical, researchers developed tadpole attractant baits called Bufo Tabs that lure tadpoles into traps set up in shallow water areas.

Seqwater Field Ranger Leigh Brown said Seqwater had been testing the environmentally friendly traps across the Hinze Dam catchment in areas of high cane toad activity.

“Cane toads are an invasive species that are detrimental to our native fauna and environment so it’s important we do what we can to manage the impact and spread of these pests,” Mr Brown said.

“Working with the Gold Coast Catchment Association, we’ve been trailing these traps for the past six months and the results so far have been encouraging.

“In some instances, we’ve returned to collect traps that have become filled with hundreds of toad tadpoles”.

Mr Brown said if the trails continued to be successful, Seqwater would look at opportunities to roll them out across other Seqwater catchments.

Professor Rob Capon said over 80 organisations and community groups across Queensland and northern New South Wales had partnered with the Cane Toad Challenge to roll out the tadpole trapping technology in their local area.

“The Cane Toad Challenge has taken chemistry out of the lab and into the field to help fight back against this invasive pest, with our trappers already removing over one million cane toad tadpoles from local waterways,” Professor Capon said.

“We are developing an app to allow our community partners to more easily track and record their catches, and also seeking new partners and investors to fast-track the roll out of this technology and remove more tadpoles from Australia’s waterways.”

Visit www.imb.uq.edu.au/canetoadchallenge or https://goldcoastcatchments.org/cane-toad-challenge/ for more information or to get involved in the cane toad challenge.

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