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World Briefing / Australia

Thousands of toxic toads croak

March 30, 2009|TIMES WIRE REPORTS

Residents of five communities in Queensland took part in the inaugural Toad Day Out event, killing thousands of poisonous cane toads amid a festive mood.

The toads can grow as long as 8 inches. They were imported from South America to Queensland in 1935 in a failed attempt to control beetles on sugar cane plantations. But the toads couldn't jump high enough to eat the beetles, which live on top of cane stalks.

The toads bred rapidly, and they now threaten many local species. They spread diseases, such as salmonella, and produce highly toxic venom.

"The children really got into the character of the event," said Townsville City Councilman Vern Veitch.

-- times wire reports

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