The dam was just shy of thirty metres long, half as wide, and a couple of metres deep, so held a fair bit of water. More than adequate for a rural-residential acreage lot they said. Not a bad little spot for enjoying life, we thought.
And the toads agreed.
We bought the block of land three and a half years ago. Two and a bit acres backing onto a nature corridor branching out from Spring Mountain Forest Park and flanked on one side by an overland flow, it already had its fair share of cane toads. There was nothing on it but a few trees and a 6 x 9 metre shed, but we went to work and within months we had our dam. It was no sooner built than it rained. Hard. That dam filled right up and hasn’t lost more than a few inches off the top since.
I swear the toads must have thought we’d built it just for them. They flocked to that dam, gathering around the edges, calling and croaking and inviting kith and kin to come join them in this new-found paradise. Very soon the dam was writhing with fat black tadpoles, and shortly after the banks became alive with thousands of tiny toadlets, each one filled with the potential to create thousands more.
And it was around that time that I declared war.
I researched lifecycles and read everything I could get my hands on. I Googled cane toad control methods and grilled local experts on humane disposal. I contacted the university and constructed my first “toadpole trap”. We would head over to our block every chance we got, usually a couple of times a week. The husband would get busy with his tractor while I would pop on the gumboots, grab my toading kit and head straight down to the dam.
I’d start with a circuit around the edge, rounding up toads as I came across them and bagging them up as I went, scooping them from the shallows or grabbing them on the hop. Once I’d completed a lap or two, I’d forgo the bags for the nets, repeatedly dipping into the murky depths and emptying my catch into a bucket, painstakingly sorting the masses of “toadpoles” from the occasional tadpole, snail, water scorpions or tiny yabbies, returning those to the water. I’d empty the toadpole trap and add more larva to my load, and re-bait the trap with some glands from my large stash of toads in the freezer.
It seemed a never-ending task and for two years my fridge held bottles of torpid toadpoles and the freezers overflowed with arctic amphibians, much to the displeasure of my husband. On more than one occasion he went on the hunt for a quick microwave snack only to return sour-faced with a Bufo-baggie.
This year however, the fruits of my labour can be enjoyed at last. There’s nary a toad in sight, and the bulrushes ringing the dam are alive with a chorus of sedge frogs, rocket frogs, and even the odd striped marsh frog joining in. A little pied cormorant thinks it’s a pretty good place to come fishing and a pair of wood ducks has decided to move in and call this place home. They reckon it’s good.
And we agree.

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