• Tony Bosworth

Poisonous cane toad captured in the Hawkesbury – one of 2 sighted at Windsor Downs

Yes, they're here, all the way from Queensland, and locals are being asked to look out for poisonous cane toads after an off-duty Local Land Services officer spotted and captured one at Windsor Downs.

Quick thinking by biosecurity officer visiting Windsor Downs nabbed this female cane toad

Only two weeks ago we put up a story warning cane toads had got as far as Penrith, but now it’s the Hawkesbury’s turn to keep a really close eye out after the pregnant female toad was captured.

There are now two confirmed cases in the Windsor Downs area, which is worrying news for people, pets and local wildlife because the frogs can kill wildlife or injure people with their poisonous toxins.

Greater Sydney Local Land Services (GSLLS) and NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) are working to respond to multiple reports of cane toads crossing the NSW border from Queensland.

Late last week, an off-duty GSLLS officer captured a suspected toad while visiting a relative in Windsor Downs.

A local veterinarian carried out an autopsy and confirmed it to be a breeding age female cane toad full of eggs.

GSLLS Biosecurity Team Leader, Anthony Schofield, said the sighting comes after another report of a cane toad in the area in the weeks prior.

Pics give some idea of size and look of the cane toad - this one captured at Windsor Downs

“This adds the Hawkesbury area to the suburbs of concern which already includes Narrabeen, Kenthurst, Penrith, Caringbah and Campbelltown,” he said.

Mr Schofield said if residents thought they had seen a cane toad, they should try to catch it wearing gloves and protective glasses.

“Toads can look similar to some breeds of native frogs so if you think you’ve found one, please don't harm it,” he said.

“It’s also important to watch out for poison. Cane toads can ooze poison from glands behind the head when stressed so it’s important to handle them safely at all times.”

Mr Schofield said there had been an increase in sightings with most cases arriving in plant shipments from Queensland.

“Cane toads pose a serious biosecurity threat to NSW and indeed Australia. Despite some close calls over the years we have been successful in keeping them from establishing in Sydney and we need the community's help to keep it that way.

“Everyone can help by reporting any sightings to NSW DPI through its exotic pest helpline,” he said.

Cane toads pose a serious biosecurity threat in Australia and are considered a pest because they:

• poison pets and injure humans with their toxins 

• poison many native animals whose diet includes frogs, tadpoles and frogs' eggs 

• eat large numbers of honeybees, creating a management problem for beekeepers 

• prey on small native animals 

• compete for food with vertebrate insectivores such as small birds and skinks 

• may carry diseases that are can be transmitted to native frogs and fishes. 

Anyone coming from cane toad infested areas such as Queensland or the Northern Territory is being asked to check their luggage, vehicle, or trailer to ensure they are not bringing a cane toad into NSW. 

A suspected cane toad should be immediately reported to NSW DPI Biosecurity through its helpline on 1800 680 244, by completing the online form, or emailing a photo of the face and details to invasive.species@dpi.nsw.gov.au. 
Visit the NSW DPI website for more information.

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