New fire ants nests found in Qld

TWO new fire ant infestations found outside the current restricted area have prompted Biosecurity Queensland to remind people of the dangers of human assisted movement.

Minister for Primary Industries, Fisheries and Rural and Regional Queensland Tim Mulherin said it is illegal to move high risk material such as soil, plants and landscaping equipment from a fire ant restricted area without an inspection.

"Recent breaches of movement restrictions by developers, construction companies, landscapers and home renovators increases the risk of fire ant infestations spreading and could lead to the devaluation of Southeast Queensland land," Mr Mulherin said.

"Biosecurity Queensland has confirmed two new fire ant infestations - one near Ormeau on the Gold Coast, 8.5km from the nearest known infestation, and another in Clontarf, 11.5 km from nearest previous detection.

"In recent months there have been several serious breaches of soil movement restrictions .

"Regardless of whether these two new infestations are a result of illegal or accidental movements it is a timely reminder that all material moved from restricted area needs inspection.

"We were alerted to these infestations in time to prevent any significant spread of fire ants, but if it continues it could be disastrous for Queensland.

"Ignoring, or forgetting to check about movement restrictions, threatens to unravel years of hard work in eradicating fire ants from Queensland."

Mr Mulherin said fines of up to $1 million for businesses and $200,000 for individuals are in place for those found breaching the movement restrictions.

"Fire ants have the potential to ruin the outdoor way of life Queenslanders enjoy," he said.

"In the US, Texas spends $1 billion a year just treating sports fields and outdoor amenities for fire ant infestations so they can be used by the public.

"Biosecurity Queensland will continue to work with councils, developers, landscapers and residents to communicate the risks of moving materials around.

"Biosecurity Queensland has also extended the employment of all 191 fire ant staff to continue the fight against infestations.

"Biosecurity is everyone's responsibility, but we are ensuring we have sufficient staffing to battle on.

"Both of these recent new infestations were reported by people who had undergone fire ant training offered at the Control Centre.

"A Gold Coast City Council Officer reported the Ormeau infestation and someone working in the area reported the one at Clontarf, so our system is clearly working."

Everyone should check their yard for fire ants and report findings immediately to Biosecurity Queensland 13 25 23 and always comply with movement restrictions.

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