The Invasive Species Council deplores the Queensland Government’s decision to abandon the state’s eradication program for yellow crazy ants, one of the world’s worst invasive species.
“This is incredibly short-sighted budget cutting,” the council’s president Andrew Cox said today.
“For the sake of a million or so dollars, the Queensland Government is condemning future Queenslanders to much greater costs to control this ecosystem-destroying super-ant.
“This decision could be tragic for the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Will UNESCO be declaring it ‘in danger’ one day because this government was too mean to protect it?
“Yellow crazy ants have been devastating on Christmas Island. They have killed tens of millions of the iconic red crabs and robber crabs for which the island is famous.
“Before a multi-million dollar baiting program, they had invaded about one-quarter of the island’s rainforest in densities as high as 79 million ants a hectare. When they reach these densities they remove nearly all the insect life, leaving little food for rainforest birds.
“The Queensland Government has just announced that it is cutting red-tape for eco-tourism in national parks. Yellow crazy ant infestations in national parks are going to be terrible for eco-tourism. They will reduce numbers of rainforest birds, just as they have done on Christmas Island. Eradicating them would be a much better investment for eco-tourism.
“The funding cut comes only weeks after the government announced a funding boost in the program against wild dogs. The obvious conclusion to draw is that government has shifted money from a major environmental threat into control of a grazing threat. But unlike yellow crazy ants, wild dogs cannot be eradicated and there are commercial incentives for landholders to invest in control.
“This is a constant problem in biosecurity across Australia – when budgets are cut, the environmental programs go first.
“Farmers should also be protesting this short-sighted decision. These ants are a horticultural pest, and are known to prey on newborn chickens and pigs.”
The Queensland’s Government’s own risk assessment says that crazy ants pose a threat to sugarcane, macadamias and coffee crops, as well as to wildlife.
Some populations of yellow crazy ants have already been eradicated. It is feasible. The government should fund an aggressive program to rid Queensland of this ant while eradication is still feasible,” Mr Cox said.
Andrew Cox can be contacted on 0438 588 040