5 June 2017
Stopping toads in their tracks
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A DOG and a quarantine officer are working together to help keep Groote Eylandt cane toad free.
Tom Lawton and two-year-old golden Labrador, Edna arrived three months ago.
They are working as part of the ALC’s Land and Sea Ranger team to protect the island’s swathe of threatened species including the Northern Hopping Mouse and the Northern Quoll.
Tom said Edna helped sniff out cane toads that tried to hitch a ride across on a barge.
The duo screens the Umbakumba barge on Wednesdays and will soon be doing the same in Alyangula on Mondays and Fridays.
“Edna and I are another link in the chain to ensure we can maintain a cane toad free island,” Tom said.
The local rangers are also using trapping and surveillance devices developed with researchers from James Cook University and Queensland University of Technology.
One of the devices listens for a toad’s breeding call and sends an alert to notify the rangers of the presence of a toad.
The other is a trap that emits a sound like a toad’s breeding call to attract the invasive and toxic pest.
Groote Eylandt has previously been home to cane toad detection dogs, most recently ‘Ozzie’ in 2014.
“Edna will be doing the same type of work but a different dog trainer prepared her for her work on Groote,” Tom said.
Tom said his role will help protect the island from other invasive plants and animals including invasive ants coming across in pot plants or building materials, feral pigs, water buffalo, introduced weeds and other pest species that could have a devastating impact on the native flora and fauna, pristine ecosystems of the Groote Archipelago and the Anindilyakwa people.

IMAGE: Tom Lawton and detection dog are helping to catch any cane toads that hitch a ride on a barge.