Naples man catches invasive cane toads by the dozens

Reporter: Annalise Iraola Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:
Cane toads captured in Naples. CREDIT: LEE SMITH

Dozens of cane toads started piling up on each other and were all caught by one man with a plan.

In total, 68 cane toads were caught in Naples. the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said there is no current population estimate for cane toads.

However, none of the cane toads should be in Southwest Florida. Cane toads are invasive, and Lee Smith is taking them on by himself, one toad at a time.

Smith is a husband, father, retired high school biology teacher, snake breeder and even a cane toad catcher.

“I use snake tongs, which are on Amazon, to pick them up mostly because they don’t have to bend over, but they’re really easy to catch. I also use a headlamp,” said Smith.

Smith explained his toad trouble started late one night when his wife couldn’t sleep because of the insufferable toad noises.

When cane toads mate, they make a lot of noise. Also, they’re toxic to other animals such as dogs and cats.

“How does it make you feel? It’s really bad when you don’t see hardly any native species,” said Smith

So when he has the time for toads, Smith goes to the ponds in his neighborhood at night. He catches as many toads as he can and euthanizes them according to FWC’s recommendations.

FWC explains that, like other invasive species, cane toads are not protected except by anti-cruelty laws and can be removed year-round with landowner permission. For the people who say it’s inhumane, Smith has a straightforward response.

“I tell him to try to think of the native species that are really suffering because Florida has a pretty delicate ecosystem, and it’s hard enough with people, you know that– and you start bringing these other invasive species gets real tough,” said Smith.

Burmese Pythons do seem to get a lot of the spotlight when it comes to invasive species in Florida. Nevertheless, the Florida climate is a breeding ground for many invasive species, including cane toads.

“I think Cane Toads could be worse,” said Smith.

If you’re looking to catch some toads, be absolutely sure they are cane toads. Click here to watch a video promoted by FWC about identifying cane toads.

Click here to see a map of “Credible cane toad sightings,” FWC promotes on their website.

Copyright ©2023 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.