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Joint Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
&
Australian Minister for Education Science and Training
Dr Brendan Nelson MP

5 August 2005

$3.6 million to fight the cane toad


The Australian Government has stepped up the fight against the cane toad with a new $3.6 million national package to combat the environmental menace.

The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, and the Minister for Education, Science and Training, Dr Brendan Nelson, today announced a $3 million funding injection for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to massively boost vital biological control research, with another $600,000 for the joint Australian Government and Western Australian Government cane toad task force.

Senator Campbell said the Australian Government had already contributed almost $7 million since 1996 on biological control studies and cane toad-trapping trials to combat the pest. The new funding would be made available through the Natural Heritage Trust and the CSIRO.

"The cane toad is a blight on our landscape, having already caused major damage to populations of Northern Territory species like the Northern Quoll," Senator Campbell said.

"Female cane toads lay 8000 to 35,000 eggs at a time and breed at least twice a year. Their large numbers in some States have had a devastating effect on our wildlife - they compete for food with other native animals and are likely to carry disease that can be transmitted to and reduce numbers of our frogs and fish species.

"So while short-term measures like traps are important to slow the toads down, their capacity to breed means we will not stop them for good unless we find a biological solution."

Dr Nelson said the $3 million funding would boost the CSIRO’s research effort into biological control of the invasive pest.

"Though there are a range of activities we can carry out to slow the progression of the cane toad, a key step towards the eradication of this pest will be found through scientific research," Dr Nelson said.

"The aim of this research is to identify a gene critical to toad development and then manipulate the gene to prevent the transition from tadpole to adult toad. The project will then look at ways in which to 'deliver' this gene through the toad population. This type of research could be the long term answer to the detrimental impact cane toads are having on our unique environment.

"The ongoing CSIRO research can now be extended and fast tracked thanks to the Government’s additional funding."

For more information on cane toads visit http://www.deh.gov.au/biodiversity/invasive/publications/cane-toad/index.html

Media contacts:
Renae Stoikos 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434
Yaron Finkelstein 02 9465 3990 or 0414 927 663

Photographs: related images are available from the photo gallery

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