Cane toads are marching across the Kimberley so quickly they could reach Broome in two wet seasons, according to the Kimberley Toad Busters.
The Kununurra organisation's reconnaissance surveys show that in some areas the toad front has moved 50km in the past six months alone, despite community efforts to remove more than three million adult toads from the Northern Territory and the Kimberley in recent years.
Kimberley Toad Busters president and founder Lee Scott-Virtue said cane toads had been found within 30km of Halls Creek and would likely extend their range to the town this season.
She said if there was more rain the toads would move into the catchment area of the Fitzroy River and would reach Derby by next wet season and Broome in two or three, but most likely two wet seasons.
Ms Scott-Virtue said that for the first time toads had been found in areas that were home to bilbies and were competing with the vulnerable mammals for food.
University of Sydney professor of biology Rick Shine said nothing had slowed the cane toad advance.
"Cane toads are incredibly difficult animals to control," he said.
"A single female can have 30,000 eggs at a time so even if you remove 98 per cent of the adult toads in an area, the few that are left behind can rapidly replace the ones that were taken away."
Cane toads have decimated populations of big predators such as goannas, freshwater crocodiles, northern quolls, blue tongue lizards and frog-eating snakes.
Professor Shine said his research focused on trying to reduce the impact of cane toads on native fauna, such as by training predators not to eat the animals.
Stop the Toads chairwoman Kim Hands said she agreed toads could be in Broome within two or three wet seasons, depending on the weather. She believed the focus should be on protecting high biodiversity sites.
A study published in December, of which Professor Shine was one of the authors, said removing artificial water bodies could exclude the toads from 268,000km of WA, an area bigger than Britain.Professor Shine said it would be costly to compensate farmers for removing water bodies.
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