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Keep an eye out for cane toads

Hunter Local Land Services is asking Lower Hunter residents to keep an eye out for cane toads, after a confirmed toad was found in Lake Macquarie, followed by reports of more sightings this week.

The toad is believed to have traveled to the area in sugar cane mulch designed for use on local gardens.

It is the third confirmed cane toad in our region this year.

Hunter Local Land Services Acting General Manager Andrew Hodgson is urging residents in Eleebana, Warners Bay, Mt Hutton and Swansea particularly to be watching out for cane toads after further reports of sightings in the area this week.

“Cane toads are not endemic in our region, they are an invasive pest and could have devastating impacts on our local environment if they became established here,” said Mr Hodgson.

“We have heard of toads travelling on vehicles before, but it appears this toad hitched a ride in a load of mulch, that was destined for local gardens.

“We are reaching out to local nurseries to monitor mulch deliveries, just in case any cane toads are present, but would are asking residents who are out in their gardens over the weekend or using mulch to also be mindful.”

Hunter Local Land Services biosecurity officers are working with the Department of Primary Industries and Lake Macquarie Council to investigate any sightings.

It is important residents report sightings of any possible cane toads immediately.

The best time to look is on warm rainy nights, however you can also look in spots they may be sheltering during the day or cool weather.

“Please if you find a suspected cane toad, don’t kill it as cane toads can be confused with some native frogs,” said Andrew Hodgson.

“Cane toads can hurt humans and kill domestic pets such as dogs and cats, and are also poisonous to many native species.

“As a community we need to work together to stop them from moving in and breeding in our area, as they could seriously threaten many native species of frogs and other small wildlife.”

Many people can't tell the difference between a native frog and a cane toad because they share features such as warty skin, a visible ear drum and webbed toes.

However, unlike native frogs, adult cane toads have all of these features:

* distinct bony ridges above the eyes, which run down the snout

* a large paratoid gland behind each eye

* unwebbed hands but webbed toes

* dry warty skin

* cane toads can range in colour from grey, yellowish, red-brown, or olive-brown, with varying patterns

What to do if you find a cane 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 ANIMAL until we confirm 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 invasive.species@dpi.nsw.gov.au

If you notice anything unusual or are aware of a plant or animal disease threat, please contact Hunter Local Land Services on 1300 795 299.