Toadbusters set for new season

AN army of volunteers is being sought to do battle against the Gladstone region's increasing cane toad population.

Those less-than-attractive warty pests are about to get their marching orders when the upcoming summer Toadbusters program begins.

The 2008 program will leap into action on Tuesday with the launch of a sausage sizzle for volunteers at Reg Tanna Park hosted by Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) and Gladstone Regional Council.

Held annually in Gladstone over the summer season, the Toadbusters program is aimed at reducing cane toad numbers in local wetlands.

Almost 5000 cane toads were collected in 13 one-hour sessions last year.

As unusual as it may sound to be out chasing and capturing cane toads, the program has proved extremely popular among the community over recent years.

Now in its seventh season, Toadbuster sessions have been scheduled for every Tuesday from 6.45pm.

Session locations will alternate between the duck ponds at the Reg Tanna Park and the Beaumont Park on J Hickey Avenue.

Some sessions have also been planned for Police Creek and the Tondoon Botanic Gardens.

CVA volunteer engagement officer Karl French said the program was a fantastic opportunity for families to spend an evening together helping the local environment.

Mr French said the program targeted mature toads which were disposed of humanely.

"Volunteers are provided with gloves and eye wear," Mr French said.

"We just ask that they wear long sleeves and trousers."

This season a sample of toads will be analysed for mutations in a research project headed by Dr Scott Wilson at CQ University.

Mr French said that amphibians such as frogs and toads were extremely susceptible to environmental pollutants such as pesticides and heavy metals, making them ideal indicators of water quality.

He said their moist skin allowed uptake of toxic substances which may cause mutations.

"Looking for evidence of this can allow researchers to identify poor water quality," Mr French said. Those wanting to register as a Toadbuster volunteer or wishing to update contact details from last year should phone the CVA Gladstone office on 4972 4969 or 0428 533 002.

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