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National Fire Ant Eradication Program Response Plan 2023-27 and Appendices

Red imported fire ants (RIFA) are rightly considered a super-pest globally, causing high long-term public health, agricultural, economic and environmental costs in countries they invade. In Australia, federal and state governments have committed to eradicate an incursion in South East Queensland (SEQ) to avoid over $2 billion/year in expected economic costs, up to 140,000 extra medical consultations per year and devastation to native wildlife if they spread across the continent.

A government 2021 review report (which the Invasive Species Council successfully ensured was publicly released in 2023), found that ‘although the current program is significantly slowing spread of RIFA in and out of SEQ, it will not be able to eradicate or contain RIFA within the scope and budget’.  The report recommended that eradication be pursued but concluded that it ‘will only be achieved with major changes in program scope, strategy, budget and governance, as well as new technologies’.  It estimated the cost of eradication to be $2-300mil/year over 10 years to avoid over $2 billion in annual economic costs.

These leaked documents, which the Invasive Species Council has made public, outline the Queensland government’s response to that report and the budget and work plan required to achieve eradication.

At the July 13 2023 Agricultural Ministers Meeting, all governments committed to ongoing fire ant eradication and to this new response plan.

So far, only Queensland ($61 million or 10.3% of the total needed for 2023-37) and NSW ($95 million or 16%) have made public commitments in line with the cost sharing arrangement set out in these documents.

Appendix 4 sets out a significantly reduced work plan for 2023/24 due to delays in commitments by some governments to the full program budget.  The implications of this reduced budget include:

  • A greater than 50% reduction in the proposed treatment area for 2023/24 – from a 10km horseshoe around the entire fire ant infestation area (across the Moreton Bay, Somerset Regional, Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim and Gold Coast Council areas) to a 5km strip only in the Scenic Rim and Gold Coast Council areas and no systematic eradication treatment in the other council areas.
  • A reduction in the surveillance target from 17% to 8% of the area.
  • Cuts to funding for compliance and public communication/education.
Map of treatment and surveillance area for 2023/24 under full response work plan.
Map of reduced treatment and surveillance area for 2023/24 under revised work plan.

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Save the Snowies

The NSW government is one step away from allowing aerial control of feral horses in Kosciuszko National Park. This is huge news and a crucial step for our threatened native wildlife and the fragile alpine ecosystems they call home.

Dear Project Team,

[YOUR PERSONALISED MESSAGE WILL APPEAR HERE.] 

I support the amendment to the Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Heritage Management Plan to allow our incredible National Parks staff to use aerial shooting as one method to rapidly reduce feral horse numbers. I want to see feral horse numbers urgently reduced in order to save the national park and our native wildlife that live there.

The current approach is not solving the problem. Feral horse numbers have rapidly increased in Kosciuszko National Park to around 18,000, a 30% jump in just the past 2 years. With the population so high, thousands of feral horses need to be removed annually to reduce numbers and stop our National Park becoming a horse paddock. Aerial shooting, undertaken humanely and safely by professionals using standard protocols, is the only way this can happen.

The government’s own management plan for feral horses states that ‘if undertaken in accordance with best practice, aerial shooting can have the lowest negative animal welfare impacts of all lethal control methods’.

This humane and effective practice is already used across Australia to manage hundreds of thousands of feral animals like horses, deer, pigs, and goats.

Trapping and rehoming of feral horses has been used in Kosciuszko National Park for well over a decade but has consistently failed to reduce the population, has delayed meaningful action and is expensive. There are too many feral horses in the Alps and not enough demand for rehoming for it to be relied upon for the reduction of the population.

Fertility control as a management tool is only effective for a small, geographically isolated, and accessible population of feral horses where the management outcome sought is to maintain the population at its current size. It is not a viable option to reduce the large and growing feral horse population in the vast and rugged terrain of Kosciuszko National Park.

Feral horses are trashing and trampling our sensitive alpine ecosystems and streams, causing the decline and extinction of native animals. The federal government’s Threatened Species Scientific Committee has stated that feral horses ‘may be the crucial factor that causes final extinction’ for 12 alpine species.

I recognise the sad reality that urgent and humane measures are necessary to urgently remove the horses or they will destroy the Snowies and the native wildlife that call the mountains home. I support a healthy national park where native species like the Corroboree Frog and Mountain Pygmy Possum can thrive.

Kind regards,
[Your name]
[Your email address]
[Your postcode]


Dear Project Team,

[YOUR PERSONALISED MESSAGE WILL APPEAR HERE.] 

I support the amendment to the Kosciuszko National Park Wild Horse Heritage Management Plan to allow our incredible National Parks staff to use aerial shooting as one method to rapidly reduce feral horse numbers. I want to see feral horse numbers urgently reduced in order to save the national park and our native wildlife that live there.

The current approach is not solving the problem. Feral horse numbers have rapidly increased in Kosciuszko National Park to around 18,000, a 30% jump in just the past 2 years. With the population so high, thousands of feral horses need to be removed annually to reduce numbers and stop our National Park becoming a horse paddock. Aerial shooting, undertaken humanely and safely by professionals using standard protocols, is the only way this can happen.

The government’s own management plan for feral horses states that ‘if undertaken in accordance with best practice, aerial shooting can have the lowest negative animal welfare impacts of all lethal control methods’.

This humane and effective practice is already used across Australia to manage hundreds of thousands of feral animals like horses, deer, pigs, and goats.

Trapping and rehoming of feral horses has been used in Kosciuszko National Park for well over a decade but has consistently failed to reduce the population, has delayed meaningful action and is expensive. There are too many feral horses in the Alps and not enough demand for rehoming for it to be relied upon for the reduction of the population.

Fertility control as a management tool is only effective for a small, geographically isolated, and accessible population of feral horses where the management outcome sought is to maintain the population at its current size. It is not a viable option to reduce the large and growing feral horse population in the vast and rugged terrain of Kosciuszko National Park.

Feral horses are trashing and trampling our sensitive alpine ecosystems and streams, causing the decline and extinction of native animals. The federal government’s Threatened Species Scientific Committee has stated that feral horses ‘may be the crucial factor that causes final extinction’ for 12 alpine species.

I recognise the sad reality that urgent and humane measures are necessary to urgently remove the horses or they will destroy the Snowies and the native wildlife that call the mountains home. I support a healthy national park where native species like the Corroboree Frog and Mountain Pygmy Possum can thrive.

Kind regards,
[Your name]
[Your email address]
[Your postcode]