Writings: Biosecurity Queensland's Fire Ant Program Exit Strategies - Community Treatment then Self Treatment. Dangerous and will make things worse. Time for a Royal Commission.

Now showing category: Writings

 The failure of Biosecurity Queensland’s 20 year, $600m National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program was inevitable.

 Biosecurity Queensland has wasted over $600m of public money over 20 years on the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program. It was doomed from the start.  The fire ant infestation has blown out from 40,000ha to over 650,000ha. Fire ants are now out of control in south-east Queensland and heading into New South Wales.

In 2001 fire ant experts from the USA said the 40,000ha infestation detected in Brisbane was too well entrenched to eradicate. They recommended tightly containing it and baiting it to suppress it.  But the Commonwealth government will not fund a containment program, only an eradication program – even a pretend eradication program.

Having thrown over $600m of public money at a pretend eradication program, the Commonwealth government is now considering if it should continue throwing more good public money after bad. Very likely, it won’t.

In 2001, fire ant experts from the USA said if Queensland neither eradicated the fire ants nor contained and suppressed them – and they haven’t – the only option left was self-management – residents and property owners managing fire ants on their own properties at their own risk and expense.

Biosecurity Queensland’s exit strategies from its fire ant fiasco – the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program – is first Community Treatment then Self-Treatment – dangerous strategies that are likely to make the infestation worse.

Community Treatment and Self Treatment – Biosecurity Queensland’s Fire Ant Program Exit Strategies –  are dangerous and likely to make the infestation worse.

Biosecurity Queensland has two exit strategies: one to reduce the number of visits field staff make to a property and a second to do away with their visits entirely.

After field staff have spot treated fire ant nests in the Brisbane suburbs of Willawong, Algester, Pallara, Calamvale, Stretton, Heathwood, Larapinta, Drewvale and Karawatha, residents will be offered a free fire ant treatment kit to treat the nests two more times. The kit includes a 250g shaker pack of Synergy (hydramethylon and pyriproxyfen) to use one month later and a 150g shaker pack of Distance Plus (pyriproxyfen) to uses two months after that.

Residents in the Gold Coast suburbs of Maudsland, Pacific Pines, Gaven, Arundel, Parkwood, Labrador, Southport, Molendinar, Ashmore, Nerang and Tamborine Mountain, North Tamborine and Eagle Heights in the Scenic Rim are being invited to receive a free 150g shaker pack of Distance Plus (pyriproxyfen) fire ant bait whether they have fire ants on their properties or not.

 Concerned about the health risks to the public performing pest control activities and the adverse results of pest control carried out by the public, the Queensland Pest Management Act 2001 restricts such activities to licensed pest management technicians.  But Biosecurity Queensland is dumping those risks onto the public.

Community treatment is dangerous

Community treatment will be dangerous if the public do not follow the product instructions.

They must wear protective clothing and PVC gloves when spreading the bait and wash the contaminated clothing after use.

They must make sure they spread the bait lightly and evenly and not under or over treat.

They must not apply bait near waterways and wetlands because the bait is toxic to aquatic life.

They must not apply it to areas accessible to children, to crop plants and to areas where poultry feed.

They must not apply the bait if rain is forecast within 24 hours

They must not water, mow or disturb the area they have treated for 24 hours.

They must thoroughly clean the fire ant shaker before disposing of it.

Biosecurity Queensland’s Community treatment program can make matters worse.

 Biosecurity Queensland is telling residents to apply fire ant bait even if they don’t have fire ants.  

The manufacturer says their product MUST NOT BE USED AS A PREVENTATIVE MEASURE FOR FIRE ANT CONTROL. Fire ants can become bait-shy if exposed to the bait too frequently. This can affect their uptake of the bait. The  manufacture accepts no liability for the failure of the bait if it has been used incorrectly.

This could mean that some of the most effective fire ant baits on the market could lose some of their effectiveness.

The next step is Self-Treatment

 How long is Biosecurity Queensland going to keep handing out expensive fire ant bait for free? Not long it seems.

Biosecurity Queensland is already telling residents on properties where field staff have collected a suspect sample and treated any suspect nests, they won’t be back. Residents are told that if they still have fire ants on their property after five weeks,  they’re on their own. They can hire a pest manager or use fire ant bait available at retail stores or pest chemical suppliers.

Dumping the costs, risks and responsibility for treating dangerous fire ants onto the public is the inevitable consequence of Biosecurity Queensland’s failed twenty year, $600m National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program. Time for a Royal Commission to hold those responsible to account.

15th November 2021