One Nation leader Pauline Hanson’s proposal to pay people to hunt cane toads is a rehashed idea that would run into some simple problems of biology, according to the experts.
Senator Hanson has written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison asking him to fund a three-month summer program, that would see those who collect cane toads financially rewarded.
Much like the container deposit scheme, she wrote “a 10 cent reward … would encourage most Australians living with the pest to take an active roll in reducing their numbers”.
But ecologist Rick Shine said it would not work because of the rate at which the pest breeds.
“There’s tens of thousands of them being hatched on the next rainy night that the toads decide to start fooling around with each other,” he said.
“This has been suggested hundreds of times and anyone who’s ever thought about it for very long decides it’s a terrible idea.”
A leading expert in cane toad eradication, Mr Shine said millions of dollars had already been spent by governments and community groups on similar plans, which have had no success.
“It hasn’t had any impact on the long-term impact on the numbers of toads, so we’ve actually got the hard evidence to say it simply doesn’t work,” he said.
Professor Rob Capon from the University of Queensland said it was an old, rehashed idea which could never logistically work.
“Who’s going to collect the toads? Are they alive, are they dead? Who’s going to take receipt of them?” he asked.
The public are happy to do this for free right now and the truth is if you translate the 10 cents per toad down to an hourly rate, you know you’re offering to pay people one or two dollars an hour to go and catch toads.”
In her pitch to the Prime Minister, Senator Hanson focuses on the eradication of adult cane toads who “eat almost anything it can fit in its mouth”.
“When rabbits plagued our nation, a sizeable reward was posted for the biological control of the species,” she wrote.
“I believe it is time our Federal Parliament takes a swift, bipartisan approach into the eradication of this pest species.”
But Professor Capon said it’s not that simple.
“If taking out adult toads was going to have been the nirvana that a bounty suggests it would have already have happened,” he said.
“The same amount of effort that we put into collect say 100 adult toads, with the right technology you can collect 100,000 tadpoles.”