A fire ants site detected south of Ballina on Friday has been destroyed and is no longer a risk to the community in the immediate area, NSW Minister for Agriculture, Tara Moriarty declared today.
To manage the risks of spread, a biosecurity control order has been put in place with immediate effect, restricting movement within the surrounding 5km area of the site in Wardell, south of Ballina, the Minister said.
“Our teams were prepared for this discovery of fire ants south of Ballina and immediately implemented our response plan and destroyed the fire ant site,” said Ms Moriarty.
“We will continue to keep the community informed of progress and will continue working closely with industry, the local community and our state and federal counterparts.”
The Minister said Department of Primary Industry teams will support the local businesses and community who will need to lock down movement of landscaping, gardening, and building materials plus machinery until inspected and checked.
The NSW Government is working closely with the Commonwealth and the Queensland Governments, and Ballina Shire Council.
Following detection of the fire ants, the NSW Government instigated its action plan covering – eradication, control, tracing, and engagement of local businesses and community.
The fire ants in Wardell were originally reported in by a member of the community to the NSW Biosecurity Hotline on Friday 19 January and confirmed as fire ants late that day.
“The NSW Department of Primary Industries team moved swiftly with colleagues from the National Fire Ant Eradication Program and Ballina Shire Council to destroy the fire ants, control the site, start tracing the source and survey the surrounding area,” the NSW Government said in a statement.
“The team will continue activities with sniffer dogs and boots on the ground to determine the extent of any infestation, undertake genetic testing of the fire ants, as well as engaging and supporting the impacted local community and businesses.”
The following types of materials cannot be moved out of the 5km zone: mulch, soil, compost and manure, growing media, hay, chaff, silage, potted plants, turf, agricultural and earth moving equipment, grass/vegetation and clippings.
There are strict restrictions for moving material from control areas. Breaching the emergency biosecurity order carries penalties of up to $1.1 million for an individual and up to $2.2 million for a corporation.
More information on fire ants and control restrictions.