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Northern Territory: RSPCA encourages the use of haemorrhoid cream to eliminate cane toads.

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Wednesday 25 January 2006

Northern Territory: RSPCA encourages the use of haemorrhoid cream to eliminate cane toads


MARK COLVIN: It's been dubbed the "bottom-line" defence against cane toads. 


The RSPCA in Darwin says haemorrhoid cream is the only humane way to eliminate the feral pest because it acts as an anaesthetic. 


It's warned that the use of golf clubs or cricket bats to kill the toads amounts to animal cruelty, and could be punished with hefty fines. 


It's a dilemma that Darwin residents are now confronting as the cane toad begins to arrive in ever increasing numbers. 


Anne Barker reports. 


(sound of golf club swing) 


GOLFER: Great drive. 


ANNE BARKER: The golf club "thwack" is what some believe is the only sure way to eliminate the hated cane toad. 


(sound of golf club swing) 


One top end town has even proposed a tournament of cane toad golf.  


And the Territory's Federal MP, Dave Tollner, recently upset animal liberationists, by encouraging the use of golf clubs or cricket bats to belt the daylights out of this feral pest. 


DAVE TOLLNER: If I was a cane toad, I'd much prefer to go out by being belted over the head with a golf club than I would being stuck in a deep freeze. 


ANNE BARKER: But the RSPCA has warned that such a barbaric approach is in fact illegal. 


And its acting CEO in Darwin, Lindsay Wilkinson, believes that haemorrhoid cream, which acts as an anaesthetic, may be the only humane way to eliminate the dreaded toad. 


LINDSAY WILKINSON: Just run a 25 millimetre strip down the back of the cane toad. The cane toad will quite quickly go into a deep sleep. You pick the toad up, and place it into a plastic bag, and you put it in the freezer. 


ANNE BARKER: It's a dilemma Darwin residents are now confronting for the first time. How to wipe out the toads without them suffering any pain? 


And it's a problem that's getting worse every day. With the northern monsoon now in full swing, cane toads are appearing in big numbers for the first time. 


Wildlife authorities are desperate to stop their spread. 


But Lindsay Wilkinson says residents should think very carefully about how they deal with the pest. 


LINDSAY WILKINSON: It's really hard to kill a cane toad with a cricket bat. If you injure a cane toad, it hops across to the neighbour's yard, where you can't find it, and dies on their lawn. So your neighbour's pet comes out, sees the cane toad, eats it and dies.  


That's the reality of not doing it properly. 


ANNE BARKER: But do you accept that is the way that most Territorians are likely to deal with cane toads? 


LINDSAY WILKINSON: No. I think that's outrageous. I think that's … you know, people need to look beyond that. There's American research, good American research now that will prove that children that are subjected to that sort of behaviour and it's condoned can set off psychopathic tendencies.  


Lots of people who've ended up in domestic violence as the perpetrator have got history of violence against animals when they're children. And then what happens is they go along, the kids might go along and think there's a kitten, let's deal with that, because it's okay to hit a cane toad, and that's a wild cat anyway. You know, they're wild kittens, does anybody in Darwin want to stand up and say yeah, we often go out there with the, and get those feral kittens and knock them around the back paddock. 


ANNE BARKER: So could people face fines? 


LINDSAY WILKINSON: Well realistically, are they're going to face fines? I don't think so, because that would be a huge, a huge task, and we'd have to prove that the frog suffered and it was killed inhumanely. 


MARK COLVIN: Lindsay Wilkinson from the RSPCA in Darwin.