By Picture: SIMON GROVES
A CANE toad has been discovered in Wodonga but mystery surrounds how he came to be south of the Murray River and survive in a storage shed without food or water.
The poisonous pest was found on Thursday morning by Wodonga Real Estate employees Christine Healy and Des Lonergan, who were checking on storage units in Footmark Court, which their organisation administers.
Mrs Healy said the toad was seen in a concrete lane which separates locked up garages in the sealed shed.
She said the only clue to the toad’s southern exposure was that one of the shed’s users had moved to the Border from Queensland recently.
After capturing the toad, Mrs Healy took him to the Department of Sustainability and Environment’s Wodonga branch, where senior flora and fauna officer Glen Johnson identified him as an adult male.
Mr Johnson said it was the first time in 15 years of working on the Border that he had come across a cane toad with people often mistaking the pobblebonk or banjo frog for the noxious creature.
He was not surprised the toad had survived the harsh conditions of the storage shed.
“It could live for some days or weeks without getting food, but he’s probably pretty recent, I would say in the past couple of weeks,” Mr Johnson said.
“These things are as tough as old boots, they are pretty resilient.”
Mr Johnson said it was illegal to deliberately bring cane toads into Victoria and offenders would be prosecuted.
The toad has been an invincible pest since being introduced in 1935, when 100 came from Hawaii to Gordonvale, near Cairns, as a biological agent to tackle beetles infesting sugar cane.
It proved a flop at that job and has since travelled south as far as Port Macquarie in northern NSW.
It is now moving towards Victoria at a rate of 1.3km a year, according to the Federal Government’s Department of the Environment and Water Resources.
“The cold is the discriminator which keeps them from expanding rapidly south, so their expansion has been north and west,” Mr Johnson said.
“They’re marching rapidly across to Kakadu, but now with climate change there’s been a recent analysis that found if they were introduced into western Victoria they could survive, whereas here we’re probably a bit too cold for them still.
“But the potential is there, the fact it’s lasted this long might be a sign of the times so we need to be aware of it, with quarantine and general transporting.”
The toad will be humanely killed.
From The Border Mail