The Forestry Bureau on Wednesday last week confirmed a report on social media that poisonous cane toads had invaded Nantou County’s Caotun Township (草屯).
Yang Yi-ru (楊懿如), and assistant professor of zoology at the National Dong Hwa University, told authorities that the amphibians had been spotted at a local farm, the bureau’s Conservation Division said.
It was the first-ever confirmed sighting of the species in Taiwan.
Photo courtesy of Liao Chang-ho
Describing cane toads as a severe threat to Taiwan’s native species, the division said officials immediately took action to remove them.
All specimens are to be handed to the university for study and humane euthanasia, it added.
The Council of Agriculture imposed a slew of regulations to control the species after 2014, when the Global Invasive Species Database declared cane toads one of the 100 worst invasive species in the world, the division said.
Photo courtesy of Liao Chang-ho
No import license for the species has ever been granted by the authorities, it said.
The public is urged to report suspicious-looking toads to the Society for Taiwan Amphibian Conservation via Facebook so that the group’s volunteers can confirm the report, it said.
Yang said that the owner of the farm had seen unfamiliar toads on his property for a year before telling volunteers about it.
She said that after being informed of the situation, she was able to identify a captured toad via video link.
Forty toads have been removed from the farm so far, and lab technicians are creating a genetic profile from a specimen for tracking purposes, she said.
The most likely explanation for the presence of the toads in the wild is that they were abandoned or escaped from confinement, as no tadpoles or eggs were discovered, she said.
Cane toads are omnivorous, highly adaptive and have poison glands behind their ear holes that squirt toxins at predators, Yang said, adding that the toxin is potentially lethal to cats and dogs.
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