Dr Pam Swepson Writer and Researcher.

Latest News

17 Oct 2017

Biosecurity Queensland’s hit and miss fire ant treatment program for 2017-18 is doomed to fail

Since 2001, Biosecurity Queensland has been repeatedly told the only way to eradicate fire ants is to totally and repeatedly blanket the entire infestation in low toxic bait: and the cheapest, quickest most effective way is by helicopter. For 17 years, Biosecurity Queensland’s treatment program has been expensive, slow, hit and miss and ineffective. The fire ant infestation is now ten times worse than in 2001. Biosecurity Queensland’s NEW targeted, rolling broadcast bait fire ant treatment program is just more hit and miss and doomed to fail. In 2017-18 Biosecurity Queensland will treat 51 suburbs on the western edge of the infestation then roll the treatment program towards the eastern edge of the infestation on the coast of Moreton Bay over subsequent years. But Biosecurity Queensland does not know where the western edge of the infestation is. Fire ants have always spread faster than Biosecurity Queensland can find them. At the same time, Biosecurity Queensland will treat high density and new infestations inside the main infestation, but outside the targeted area. Spot treating more than forty high density infestations and over 2000 new detections outside the targeted area, as well as new detections well outside Biosecurity Queensland’s containment lines, will take significant time and resources. And Biosecurity Queensland will be wasting more time and money if it ignores scientific advice, again, as it appears to be doing, and treats infested areas less than three times each season, does not totally blanket infested areas and spreads bait in cooler months when the ants aren’t foraging. The National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program is doomed to fail if Biosecurity Queensland continues to run it. 17th October 2017

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10 Oct 2017

Biosecurity Queensland’s bungled fire ant program is alienating the public rather than engaging it in the fight against fire ants.

The public is doing its bit to fight fire ants: detecting 70% of fire ant nests. But bungling Biosecurity Queensland alienates the public because it takes weeks to inspect suspicious nests and then months treat fire ant nests. Annoyed and alienated residents and businesses think ‘If Biosecurity Queensland is not serious about fire ants, why should we be?’ Companies are now getting on with their businesses rather than waiting months for Biosecurity Queensland to treat nests they have reported. Mowing contractors are mowing over fire ant nests Biosecurity Queensland tagged months ago and still not treated. Naturally, fire ants keep spreading. In 2015, an independent review found that Biosecurity Queensland lacks the leadership and organisational capacity to protect Queenslanders from invasive pests and diseases: either now or in the foreseeable future. The National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program will continue to fail while Biosecurity Queensland runs it. 10 October 2017

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22 Sep 2017

Biosecurity Queensland doubles effort to fight fire ants but problem is ten times worse. Again, too little, too late.

Having wasted $400m of public money on a failed fire ant program that has seen the infestation get ten times worse, Biosecurity Queensland is desperate keep the Commonwealth and other State and Territory governments funding the program. Biosecurity Queensland has promise to double its efforts, which are again, too little too late: likely to waste more public money. Biosecurity Queensland plans to: • Treat more of the infestation by air. 16 years after they were told to blanket the infestation with low toxic bait by air, they are now going to treat less than a quarter of it. • revamp the decommissioned aerial surveillance program that found millions of rocks and cow pats and only 38 nests while the infestation tripled. • increase the use of odour detections dogs that are expensive to train and have limited use. • better engage the community who find most of the fire ants and who are sick of waiting months for Biosecurity Queensland to treat them. • Improve the program's Information Technology system. Biosecurity Queensland still does not have a functioning data base to support any claims of success. • Continue to dump the responsibility for containing the spread of fire ants onto the public. 22 September 2017

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