Aussie Authorities Expand Cane Toad Sausage Trials

June 18, 2018

After a small and focused trial last March that saw quolls learn to avoid eating invasive cane toads (Rhinella marina) in Western Australia, staff with the Western Australia Parks and Wildlife Service have conducted a massive air-drop of sausages made of minced cane toad meat and a chemical that is designed to make the endangered northern quolls nauseous so they will learn to avoid eating the amphibian, which is lethal to the small mammal. 

Cane toad

Ryan M. Bolton/Shutterstock

Scientists in Australia hope that sausages made of cane toad meat and laced with a noxious chemical will help save northern Quoll populations.

According to ABC News Kimberley, the minced cane toad sausages were air-dropped every 100 meters over a wide swath of a cattle station that is just ahead of the cane toad frontline, where the amphibians have been slowly marching across the country. 

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The first cane toads to arrive are the biggest and thus the most deadly, so getting the native animals to eat the laced meat will hopefully condition them to avoid eating the toads altogether.

The researchers are hoping that with the baiting of the cane toad sausages, they will help to prevent localized extinction of the quolls. 

Cane toads were introduced to Australia in 1935 to  control the cane beetle, a sugar cane pest, but the outcome has been disastrous. The amphibian came to northern Queensland via South America and is now widespread throughout northeast NSW and are nearing the border in north west NSW. The poisonous toads have been linked to the decline of several native species, including quolls, certain snake species and goannas.

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