SPCA outrage over 'cane toad golf'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 June, 2007, 12:00am

An Australian city has outraged animal welfare groups by advocating that locals take up the sport of 'cane toad golf' - beating to death the country's most notorious pest with golf clubs, cricket bats or anything else at hand.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has condemned Townsville, in Queensland, for encouraging cruelty to the toads, which were introduced to Australia in the 1930s to prey on sugar cane beetles and have since bred in their many millions.

The city has produced a list of its inhabitants' favourite pursuits, with 'cane toad golf' ranking alongside eating mud crab sandwiches, saluting old soldiers on Anzac Day and 'bagging a barra' - catching a wild barramundi fish.

The list of activities appears on promotional beer coolers which are part of an A$270,000 (HK$1.7 million) advertising campaign to promote civic pride in Townsville.

But SPCA spokesman Michael Beattie said that encouraging the killing of cane toads was irresponsible, even if they were pests. 'We accept that [cane toads] are a menace and need to be eradicated. However, hitting them with golf clubs is inhumane and totally ineffective,' he said.

The toads were so resilient - large adults can fill the bottom of a bucket - that many were able to withstand a blow from a sharp object.

'Simply whacking a few with golf clubs doesn't work. Nine times out of 10 the cane toad will get up and hop away,' said Mr Beattie.

'What's next? Are you going to take the golf clubs to cats, or flying foxes or frogs? It's sending the wrong message to children.'