By CRAIG McTEAR
WHEN Howard Davis noticed something bouncing in front of him, he initially thought it was a frog.
But he soon realised it was a more sinister creature which had taken up residence outside his Coffs Harbour home.
Howard was walking his poodle, Toby, on his lawn in Halls Road on Monday about 8.30pm when he made the startling discovery.
"At the start I thought it was just a frog and didn't think much of it," he said.
"I took my dog inside and then I thought to myself 'that's a cane toad'.
"I went back out onto the lawn with a torch and started looking into the garden he'd hopped into.
"Luckily he came back out, otherwise I would never have found him."
Another resident pulled up when he saw Howard shining his torch and kept his headlights trained on the toad.
Howard retrieved a bucket and covered the pest.
Then it was off to the freezer, where the toad drifted into an eternal sleep.
"Often, people try to beat them to death with a cricket bat or whatever, and just leave them there, where they can pose a threat to pets and kids," he said.
"I'm glad my dog didn't notice the toad hopping around. If he'd grabbed it, he could have died."
He wasn't all that surprised to find a cane toad in his front yard, considering they often hitch rides on trucks.
Howard lived in Queensland for 14 years and has seen more cane toads there than he cares to remember.
"You can't get rid of them," he said.
NPWS area manager, Glenn Storrie, said cane toads turned up on the Coffs Coast 'now and then', but had not established a population here.
He said the nearest colonies were in the Iluka/Yamba area to the north and Port Macquarie to the south.
"Obviously they can survive here," Mr Storrie said.
"They can arrive in garden material such as mulch and plants from further up north.
"We want the community to be very vigilant and we ask people to capture them alive and bring them to us for identification, because a lot of people get them confused with native species.
"Cane toads have a dramatic impact on our wildlife, so the importance of being vigilant is critical."