The rest of Australia must back a long-term plan to help Queensland eradicate vicious red fire ants, the Invasive Species Council warned ahead of today’s meeting between state and federal agriculture ministers in Brisbane.
“For 15 years Queensland has shouldered the burden of fire ant eradication with only short-term funding from other states and territories. This approach has to change,” council CEO Andrew Cox said.
“Canberra and all other states must sign off on at least five year’s funding so the eradication team can get on with its job.
“We need to treat the fire ant invasion like the national war it is, with long-term planning, trained staff and funding commitments to get rid of fire ants and stop more arriving.
“Red imported fire ants are a highly aggressive invasive species, forming super colonies that swarm intruders and sting them repeatedly. In the US some 80 people have died after being stung by fire ants.
“If fire ants spread throughout Australia it’s game over for our relaxed, outdoor lifestyles.
“The eradication program has cost $300 million to date, which is nothing compared to the billions it would cost if we fail to stop them.
“The US state of Texas alone spends $7 billion every year to control fire ants and even then many parks and other areas remain uninhabitable.
“The Queensland eradication team has successfully stamped out infestations in Brisbane and Gladstone ports and has a good chance of wiping out colonies south and west of Brisbane.
“During the last year, Sydney and Darwin have also had fire ant and browsing ant infestations that benefited from the expertise of the Queensland team.
“But the task of eradicating fire ants from Brisbane is enormous and will take many years.
“We know what dangerous invasions await us and all we’re asking is that governments fully commit now to stop them in their tracks,” Mr Cox said.
For comment contact Andrew Cox on 0438 588 040.