What to do with a pest

cane toad jack daniels whiskey alcohol queensland townsville
Stuffed cane toads holding tiny bottles of liquor on sale in Townsville, far north Queensland, Australia

International trade and travel has brought with it the introduction of many different species of plants and animal into parts of the world they were never meant to be. Red Back Spiders in Japan, lorrikeets in New Zealand and camels in central Australia to name just a few. Usually the results are disastrous for the local wildlife.

But of all the disastrous species introductions, the humble cane toad has to be the piece de resistance. Originally brought in to help control a small beetle that was eating sugar cane in far north Queensland, a small number were released just down the road from my house, in the tiny town of Gordonvale.

What happened next would go down in the annals of royal screw ups as the cane toads failed to eat the beetles (they couldn’t jump high enough to reach them!) but instead multiplied to plague proportions and spread up and down the eastern coast of Australia, now spreading all across the northern part of the continent, devouring native species as they go. Oh, and they are poisonous to anything that tries to eat them so are responsible for the death of millions of native predators to boot.

Queenslanders have a variety of ways of getting rid of these backyard invaders but this was one of the most original ways I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure who the hell would want to display one of these things but good on the shop seller for trying to turn a major negative into a humorous positive.

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