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
Since 2001, Biosecurity Queensland has been repeatedly told the only way to eradicate fire ants is to totally and repeatedly blanket the entire fire ant infestation with low toxic bait: leaving no gaps for fire ants to escape through. And the quickest, cheapest and most effective way of doing that is by helicopter. Even in 2006 when the infestation was approximately 150,000ha, independent scientists still said baiting the entire infestation by air was still the most efficient and cost effective option. Biosecurity Queensland never did. So, another independent scientific review in 2010 said Biosecurity Queensland’s fire ant program was not eradicating fire ants and they need better methods. Biosecurity Queensland never developed any and the fire ant infestation is now ten times worse than it was in 2001. By 2015, the Commonwealth and other State and Territory governments who pay for the fire ant program were questioning the value of throwing more good public money after the approximately $350m that Biosecurity Queensland had wasted so far.
To convince the Commonwealth and State and Territory government to continue to fund the fire ant eradication program, Biosecurity Queensland promised a new, targeted, rolling broadcast bait treatment program, starting 2017-18, that will, THIS TIME, eradicate fire ants. In reality, Biosecurity Queensland’s new fire ant treatment program is just another hit and miss program and doomed to fail.
Biosecurity Queensland’s targeted, rolling, broadcast bait treatment program will start at the western edge of the infestation, broadcasting fire ant bait, either by helicopter, All-Terrain Vehicle, or spread by staff on foot, two or three times each season, over fifty-one suburbs, or parts of suburbs, in the Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim and Ipswich areas. The rolling broadcast baiting program will then progress toward the eastern edge of the infestation on the coast of Moreton Bay in subsequent years.
At the same time, Biosecurity Queensland will broadcast bait over other high risk and densely infested areas outside the targeted area to suppress those infestations until they are targeted for the rolling eradication effort. And, at the same time, Biosecurity Queensland will destroy all nests reported by the public.
Biosecurity Queensland’s new targeted, rolling, broadcast bait treatment program is just another hit and miss fire ant treatment program, also doomed to fail because:
The Biosecurity Capability review of 2015 found that Biosecurity Queensland does not have the leadership and organisational capability needed to protect Queenslanders from invasive pests and diseases. The National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program will continue to fail while Biosecurity Queensland runs it.