Hunter Local Land Services is urging Port Stephens residents and holiday makers to be on the look out for cane toads after one was caught in Salamander Bay last weekend.
It is the second cane toad, an invasive pest that is poisonous to pets and can harm humans, caught in the region this summer. A toad was found in Harrington, north of Forster, on New Year's Day.
"While the Hunter and Mid Coast are popular summer holiday locations, cane toads are certainly not on our favourite visitors list," Hunter Local Land Services regional weeds coordinator Matt Kennedy said.
"With a bit of rain around and humid conditions, it's unfortunately the perfect season for toads but we don't want them to make themselves at home here and we're asking holiday makers to please ensure they are not bringing toads unwittingly into our area, stowed away in their cars or caravans.
"We've been working closely with local councils, community groups and amphibian experts to undertake strategic mapping of potential cane toad hotspots in our region."
A Salamander Bay resident caught the cane toad in his driveway last weekend (January 18-19) and immediately reported it to Hunter Local Land Services.
The last reported cane toad sighting in Port Stephens was in Medowie in February 2019.
Medowie resident Nerrida Bednar knew almost straight away she had found a cane toad when she spotted it outside Medowie Public School in the early hours of February 25.
Ms Bednar carefully caught the cane toad in a box, reported it to the NSW Department of Primary Industries and delivered it to a Medowie veterinarian. The cane toad was then delivered it to a Raymond Terrace vet clinic where tests were done to find out sex and type. Afterwards, it was humanely destroyed.
Late last year, Hunter Local Land Services worked with councils in the region and ran a series of workshops showing community members how to identify potential cane toads from native frogs, and what to do if they find a suspected toad.
"The most important message is if you spot a suspected toad, please don't kill it - we have a number of native species that look very similar to cane toads, and we don't want them to be killed unintentionally," Mr Kennedy said.
"We are grateful to the community for their high level of interest in keeping our area free of breeding populations of cane toads.
"We held a spotlight night in three locations across the Lower Hunter in late December which was really engaging and intend to host more spotlight evenings in potential cane toad habitats like local swamps and wetlands in coming weeks."
Tips on what to do if you find a toad:
- Always wear protective gloves and eyewear when handling potential cane toads. They extrude (and sometimes squirt) poison from glands positioned behind the head
- The animal should be collected and held in a closed, well-ventilated, non-toxic container, with some water
- Don't harm the animals until HLLS confirms what it is
- Photograph the animal and report it to NSW DPI using this online reporting form www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/biosecurity/sighting or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you notice anything unusual or are aware of a plant or animal disease threat, phone Hunter Local Land Services on 1300 795 299.