Queensland steps up fire ant eradication program

The Queensland government is recruiting up 140 additional staff to eradicate fire ants in the state under a $411.4 million decade-long eradication program commencing this month that will double the effort to neutralise the threat of red imported fire ants.

“The focus of the eradication program over the next 10 years is to reduce the size of the infestation in a staged approach, rolling out an eradication planned treatment program from west to east,” Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne said.

“An intensive bait treatment program will get under way this month in outer western infestation areas of the Lockyer Valley, Ipswich and Scenic Rim.

“Three rounds of bait treatment will be applied over a nine month period, with the bait treatment expected to commence this month.

“This year, the program is expecting to treat more than 250,000 hectares, compared to almost 100,000 ha completed last year.”

The Queensland Government is contributing $43.2 million to the additional funding of $411.4 million over 10 years that was endorsed at the Agricultural Minister’s Forum in July 2017.

The additional funding will not only increase the program’s treatment and surveillance capacity and will also support increased scientific analysis of eradication processes and tools, odour detection dogs, community engagement, remote sensing surveillance research and development, and improved IT systems.

An independent Steering Committee has been established to provide high level strategic oversight of the program.

Successive Queensland Governments have spent $353 million on the eradication of fire ants since its first detection in 2001.

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