Facing a barrage of complaints from the public that Biosecurity Queensland leaves tagged fire ant nests untreated for weeks and weeks, Biosecurity Queensland is now removing ID tags from untreated nests and not tagging newly detected ones. More evidence Biosecurity Queensland is more interested in covering-up its failure than stopping the spread of fire ants? 6th July 2018
Biosecurity Queensland has come under a constant barrage of complaints from businesses and residents in south-east Queensland for leaving tagged fire ant nests untreated for weeks and months. Unidentified fire ant nests are dangerous to the public. Untreated nests allow fire ants to spread. This compliant was high on the list of complaints community representatives made at a Stakeholders’ Forum in May. People said it looks like Biosecurity Queensland doesn’t take the fire ant problem seriously.
Biosecurity Queensland’s response to this criticism, according to a witness, is to remove tags from untreated fire ant nests, and according to a program manager, to stop tagging every new nest. What a shocking response! Is this more evidence Biosecurity Queensland is more interested in covering-up its failure than eradicating fire ants?
The photo shows one of a number of huge, tagged, fire ant nests along a fence line in Alberton, in the Gold Coast City Council area. Alberton has been inside the Fire Ant Biosecurity Zone, and the program’s operational area, for at least three years, and should have been treated many times by now. Those nests in Alberton have been tagged and untreated for weeks. They remain untreated, because, according to a Biosecurity Queensland manager, ‘they are not a high priority’. And a witness has observed the tags on all those untreated nests have now been removed.
Fire ants are one of the world’s most dangerous and aggressive super-pests. They inflict multiple burning stings on anything that disturbs their nests. Small children and older people are particularly at risk. The pain of the stings can last for weeks and people allergic to their stings can die.
Biosecurity Queensland is creating a huge public safety risk by leaving dangerous fire ant nests untreated, by not posting warning signage near fire ant nests in public parks and sporting facilities, and by not tagging identified fire ant nests.
Biosecurity Queensland’s incompetence is making the fire ant infestation worse. For years, mowing contractors have simply mowed over tagged fire ant nests in public parks and footpaths because they couldn’t wait for Biosecurity Queensland to treat them. Now, mowing contractors won’t even have to bother with the tags, but of course, that causes fire ants to spread.
Biosecurity Queensland’s incompetence is making the problem worse because landowners are now treating nests on their properties: risking getting stung and likely making the problem worse. The inappropriate use of insecticides is one of the main reasons eradication efforts in the USA failed.
It seems Biosecurity Queensland is more concerned about covering-up its incompetence than it is about containing the spread of fire ants.