Regular readers will remember the anguish with which celebrities and commoners alike rallied round the cause of poor old introduced hedgehogs in Scotland, hard-pressed by conservationists bent on their eradication.
Now an Australian comparison has arisen. Let’s see if Sir Paul McCartney steps forward once more, in defence of the cane toad! Yes, this deeply unpleasant creature, introduced in 1935 and wreaking havoc ever since, is the object of extraordinary hatred by, it seems, all Australians. No Australian societies exist to stand up for the rights of cane toads, and nobody is offered any bounty to cane toad rescuers. Instead, we get the robust Aussie response of “Not In My Backyard Day”, which is sponsored by the Northern Territory government. Federal MP Dave Tollner says, helpfully:
“I suggested that people should hit them with golf clubs or cricket bats or, you know, lumps of wood – whatever was at hand.”
Some Australian school students have made some comments on the issue which perhaps show that Mr Tollner was reflecting the depth of popular feeling:
Although there are other ways of killing cane toads (hitting them with bats, driving over them on purpose etc.) freezing them would be a practical way of reducing the population of cane toads. Austin
I think Cain toads should be beaten with hockey and cricket bats because they pest to sugarcane fields in Australia. Apparently if you put salt on the back of a frogs they will explode. If we were to freeze these toads in our own freezer someone could accidentally get up during the night and be hungry so they can eat a frozen toad YUK… nick rayner
…if trapping them and freezing them is going to work then do it. If killing them will help a little bit then they should do it. Because if just one person kills a couple then that is better then not killing any, if we just leave them then there will be even more to deal with. Killing them right now is the only way to get rid of them then that is what we should do. Alyce Young
Something tells the Ranger that our own British MPs are not going to be queueing up to recommend the same treatment for grey squirrels or mink. Similarly, he doubts that the British RSPCA would ever be called upon to offer the same advice as their Australian namesakes:
[The Australian RSPCA] recommends that they be smeared with haemorrhoid cream. It contains a local anaesthetic that induces a coma. The toads are then placed in a freezer and the job is done humanely.
Well, that’s alright then. All that talk of hockey sticks was a bit scary. Wouldn’t want them to suffer too much, would we?
This article was first published in 2006. This version is updated with new links.
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