05/10/2007 - 11:29

State allocates further $1m to fight against cane toads

05/10/2007 - 11:29


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The State Government will spend a further $1 million on the fight against cane toads, Premier Alan Carpenter announced today, with funding going towards research and community groups.

State allocates further $1m to fight against cane toads

The State Government will spend a further $1 million on the fight against cane toads, Premier Alan Carpenter announced today, with funding going towards research and community groups.



The full text of an announcement from the Premier's office is pasted below

Premier Alan Carpenter today announced a $1million funding boost for the State Government's fight against cane toads.

The Premier said $500,000 would go towards groundbreaking research that could ultimately lead to the development of a biological weapon designed to kill cane toads.

A total of $340,000 would go towards on-the-ground work by community groups, while $150,000 would fund a new co-ordinating role based in Kununurra.

Mr Carpenter said the funding took the State Government's commitment to eradicating cane toads from Western Australia to almost $12million.

"We committed $350,000 last year to the cane toad genome research proposal by Professor Grant Morahan from the WA Institute for Medical Research (WAIMR)," he said.

"This is an exciting project and we hope the additional $500,000 announced today will lead to an all-important biological weapon that will kill the cane toads without harming other native animals.

"The project also received more than $250,000 from the Australian Research Council earlier this year, but with a proposed budget of $1.12million, the program might never be realised unless we supply this additional funding.

"We are also providing $340,000 to community groups to continue their heroic 'toad busting' efforts, including $240,000 to the Kimberley Toadbusters and $100,000 to the Stop the Toad Foundation for this year's toad muster.

"A total of $150,000 will also be provided for the appointment of a full-time Kununurra- based on-the-ground co-ordinator, including operating funds, to work with both community groups to help implement local toad control programs."

A report commissioned by the State Government to assess the effectiveness of on-the-ground efforts to control cane toads was also released today.

The report was completed by Dr Tony Peacock, chief executive officer of the Invasive Animals Co-operative Research Centre (CRC).

"Dr Peacock's report found that the cane toads were virtually unstoppable in their march towards WA," the Premier said.

"This is a grim warning, however we are absolutely determined to do everything we can to keep up the fight."

While the report acknowledged the dedication of the two cane-toad community groups, it said there was no definitive evidence they were having a significant long-term impact in halting the march of cane toads.

"Like Dr Peacock, I applaud the dedication and passion of the community groups and I remain hopeful they will be able to work together to achieve the same goal."

The report also highlighted the failure of the Federal Government in playing a pivotal co-ordinating and funding role in this national emergency.

Mr Carpenter said that Environment Minister David Templeman would write to the Federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull, as well as the Shadow Environment Minister Peter Garrett, seeking federal leadership in this across-border issue.

"We are acting now for the future to protect our borders and our unique environment from the looming cane toad threat," he said.

"We are also the first State to mount a concerted effort against cane toads before they arrive."

The State Government's multi-million dollar commitment includes:

- $7million joint State-Commonwealth project to undertake a major biological survey of the Kimberley islands;
- a $500,000 public awareness and information campaign throughout the State;
- more than $600,000 to the volunteer groups, including $12,000 for each group per month since April this year;
- $60,000 towards a $500,000 Australian Research Council-funded project being conducted by Professor Rick Shine from the University of Sydney to determine the impact of cane toads on a variety of native animals;
- the implementation of the Department of Environment and Conservation's Kununurra Cane Toad Team; and
- funding to station a sniffer dog with the WA Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service at the Border Checkpoint inspecting vehicles and consignments of plants being brought into WA from the Eastern States. 'Nifty' the dog is also involved in field activities and identifying cane toad refuge.

Dr Peacock's report is available at http://www.naturebase.net


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