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Quolls survive cane toad invasion of Adolphus Island

Northern blue tongue lizard found on Adolphus Island
Northern blue tongue lizard found on Adolphus Island Parks and Wildlife

Endangered northern quolls are surviving on a Kimberley river island that has been colonised by cane toads.

The Department of Parks and Wildlife, working with the Balanggarra traditional owners, found evidence of quolls on Adolphus Island, which is located in the Ord River less than 2km from the riverbank, during four visits this year.

Cane toad program coordinator Corrin Everitt said it was exciting the carnivorous marsupials were persisting on the island.

“Despite the presence of cane toads, species susceptible to their poison such as northern quolls are surviving in low numbers, which is very good news,” Ms Everitt said.

It is thought toads reached Adolphus, near the mouth of the Ord River, by ‘rafting’ there during flood events about two years ago.

“It is significant that cane toads managed to cross salty water to get there,” Ms Everitt said.

“Despite the lack of surface freshwater on the island during the dry season, toads have been able to survive by retreating to burrows and rock crevices.

“A few toads were sighted in November, despite very hot and dry weather.”

Ms Everitt said during visits to the island, departmental staff surveyed quoll and goanna populations with cage traps, infra-red automated cameras and conducted searches by day and night on foot.

“During our most recent trips to the island in October and late November we did not trap any quolls, but collected over 80 quoll images on cameras and found evidence of their tracks and scats,” she said.

Ms Everitt said a number of cane toad control techniques would be trialled on Adolphus, which would help inform the future management of other islands in the path of the invasive species.

“Early next year, with the Balanggarra rangers and the traditional owners, we plan to survey quoll numbers again and trial if they can be taught not to eat toads,” she said.

“We will also survey snake and goanna numbers to determine how these populations have fared over the wet season.

“Together with researchers at the University of Sydney, the Balanggarra rangers and traditional owners, we also hope to test the use of particular toad pheromones added to water bodies that are thought to reduce breeding success.”

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Last modified on Monday, 15 December 2014 09:42