Wednesday, April 19, 2006


SYDNEY, Australia — Australians are taking revenge on the much loathed cane toad by turning the pests into liquid fertilizer.

The toads were introduced to Queensland from South America in the 1930s to prey on a beetle that was devastating sugar cane plantations.

The experiment was a disaster, as they proved useless against the insects and instead multiplied by the millions, hopping across Queensland and, in recent years, into the Northern Territory.

Darwin is under siege, with locals setting traps, attempting to toad-proof their gardens and organizing nighttime “musters” in which they capture dozens of the amphibians by flashlight.

A conservation group, FrogWatch, is encouraging the public to recycle the hundreds of thousands of toads culled every year, turning them into fertilizer, or “toad juice.”

It claims that saplings treated with essence of toad grow more quickly, and it is reported to be good for growing bananas and papayas.

“They stink when they are rotting down, but at the end you are left with a clear blue liquid,” said Graham Sawyer, FrogWatch’s founder. The first batch of toad juice has been produced from 440 pounds of dead toads by a fertilizer company in Darwin.

Opinion is divided as to how best to kill them. While some advocate the use of a cricket bat or golf club, the Australian Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals suggests that hunters anaesthetize them by smearing them with hemorrhoid cream before putting them in the freezer and waiting until they are dead.

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