By DAVID MOASE
THE discovery of a cane toad in Woolgoolga this week has Brad Nesbitt wanting one simple answer.
Was it a rogue visitor or an advance guard from an approaching army of Australia's best-known amphibian pests?
The cane toad was found in Woolgoolga High School's agricultural plot and Mr Nesbitt, a National Parks and Wildlife Service pest management officer, is hopeful it is not an indication of a breeding colony in the area.
"We have no idea at this stage how he got there," Mr Nesbitt said.
"There is no major landscaping or building work in the area, which is often a sign that one may have hitched a ride with some building equipment.
"We have people organised to go out after the next rain to try to find any signs of other toads in the area.
"They will have recorded cane toad calls that they will play to see if they get a response."
Mr Nesbitt said although there were no known breeding populations between Yamba and Port Macquarie, the capture of the toad at Woolgoolga was a sign more of the pests may be seen during the warmer months.
Last year there were about six sightings in the Coffs Harbour area.
"It is important that cane toads are not allowed to establish on the Coffs Coast and community vigilance is an important strategy in managing their spread," he said.
Cane toads were introduced to northern Queensland from South America in 1935 as a biological control for the sugar cane beetle, which proved unsuccessful.
Less interested in beetles than breeding, the original population of 101 animals has grown into a coastal infestation stretching from the outskirts of Darwin to south of Yamba.
They can be spread accidentally in mulch, soil, pot plants, building materials or under caravans and other vehicles.
Two toads were found in Coffs Harbour a few years ago happily travelling between the tyre and the rim of a motor car wheel.
Armed with toxin-producing sacks on their shoulders, cane toads pose a major threat to native