Over the weekend, Australians united for a common cause: the destruction of the cane toad. Thousands of toads were collected by Queensland residents and brought to a morbid block party where they were summarily frozen or gassed to death.
“To see the look on the faces of the kids as we were handling and weighing the toads and then euthanizing them was just…,” Townsville City Councilman Vern Veitch said, breaking off to let out a contented sigh. “The children really got into the character of the event.”
Why such heart warmth over this mass extermination? In short, the cane toad was imported to Australia in the 1930s in the hope that it would control their cane beetle population. Instead, the toad has turned into a pest of its own since it can’t jump high enough to affect the cane beetle population and, thanks to its poison glands, there are no natural predators to keep its reproduction rate in check. Since the original introduction of 102 toads, the population has grown to several million and spread across much of northern Australia.
The story of Australians’ very bizarre love/hate relationship with this critter is best told in the hilarious documentary, “Cane Toads: An Unnatural History”. Here’s a small excerpt. Warning: a mouse is sacrificed to science, art, and cane toad hunger in this clip.
The complete “Cane Toads: An Unnatural History”: