Australia Recruiting Tourists as Toad Killers

Tourists will have the chance to take part in toad-killing safaris, under a shock new plan to lure tourists to Australia, The Northern Territory News reported in its Friday edition.

Officials in the country's Northern Territory believe the proposal will swell visitor numbers while helping to curb the region's troublesome cane toad population.

Graeme Sawyer, lord mayor of Darwin and coordinator of Frogwatch, said there would be no shortage of whack-happy visitors ready to take on the pests.

But he said past proposals by tour operators to include toad busts in their overnight camps had been knocked back.

"It's crazy ... we've had tour operators who want to do it and been denied by park rangers," he said.

Frogwatch figures estimate there are about 92 million cane toads infesting the Northern Territory, which it says are having a huge impact in their competition for food with native animals.

Sawyer said the Territory could replicate the successes of the Great Toad Muster, held annually near the border with Western Australia, which attracts volunteering tourists.

"It's a pretty amazing experience out there ... seeing these places at night, crocs in the water, there's a sense of adventure and adds to people's sense of achievement," he said.

Since being deliberately introduced to Australia in 1935 the highly adaptable and toxic amphibians have spread across the country causing enormous environmental damage to local species.

The toads have few predators in Australia and are considered a noxious pest, with many communities taking steps to kill as many as possible to protect the local environment.