In gun-shy Australia, where even paintball and imitation guns are generally banned from public hands, it’s a bold proposal.
But that hasn’t stopped Queensland MP Bob Katter from making it.
Katter says he wants Aussie children taking on the responsibility of cane toad bounty hunters, arming the three-foot soldiers with low-powered air rifles.
Their reward? 40 cents a toad.
Children to combat cane-toad pest problem
Katter’s $2 million de-caning mission, as reported by AAP, comes in yet another desperate bid to save the environment from this introduced pest.
Ironically, the cane toad was brought from Central America back in 1935 to help combat the destructive beetles who were destroying sugar cane crops across Queensland. And now, the pest hunters have become the pests themselves.
Perhaps this is the thought that ran through Mr Katter’s head when devising this plan, giving ‘pesty’ children a real-life weapon and target, sending them into the real world, and giving them a real task to complete.
In other words, a real-life video game that the kids can profit from.
As Katter told reporters in Townsville this week, ‘it’ll give a bit of fun for our kids and a bit of pocket money for them as well’.
But mention the word ‘rifle’ and trigger warnings are set off left, right and centre. After all that’s been going on in the world, the last thing we’d want to do is retract our anti-gun stance.
Katter, however, laughed away these concerns, insisting the weapons are so low-powered that they’re essentially ‘harmless’.
‘Some of my friends have tried to hurt people but that’s not going to happen — they’re pretty harmless.’
Rather than promoting violent behaviour and adding danger to the lives of our little ones, Katter believes this cane toad hunting scheme will bring nothing but positivity, teaching children the true value of money while helping the environment.
Is this the best plan we have?
Another point in favour of this plan is its simplicity, as Katter also notes (reported by AAP):
‘Up close it’s just squeeze the trigger — end of story.
‘That’s simple instead of running around with golf clubs and spades, plastic bags and suffocating and pouring stuff on them — it’s just not working.’
Katter’s scheme has been put alongside Pauline Hanson’s 10-cent toad bounty for comparison. The One Nation leader wrote to Prime Minister Scott Morrison proposing a three-month summer program of toad-catching.
Naturally, holes in Hanson’s plan were pointed out, the most significant of which was its inefficiency. Experts believe three months of toad catching would not effectively combat the rapid breeding rate of the cane toads, as ABC has reported.
But its appeal to the public is also hard to spot, with Professor Capon of the University of Queensland pointing out:
‘If you translate the 10 cents per toad down to an hourly rate, you know you’re offering to pay people one or two dollars an hour to go and catch toads.’
Granted, 40 cents is also quite low. But not in the eyes of pocket-money-hungry children.
Still, it will be a big push getting this cane toad bounty plan off the ground.
For, as Professor Capon also notes:
‘If taking out adult toads was going to have been the nirvana that a bounty suggests it would have already have happened.
‘The same amount of effort that we put into collect say 100 adult toads, with the right technology you can collect 100,000 tadpoles.’
Maybe ‘point and shoot’ isn’t the way to go for this particular environmental issue, no matter how beneficial it could be.
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