Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Biosecurity blitz to target red fire ants that threaten Australian way of life

Second-biggest biosecurity operation in nation’s history sees $411m committed to eradicating invasive species that threatens agriculture, wildlife, tourism and outdoor lifestyle

Wednesday 26 July 2017 19.16 BSTLast modified on Thursday 27 July 2017 01.58 BST

They are one of the world’s worst invasive species, and now, more than two decades after they are believed to have arrived in Australia, the country is launching the second-biggest biosecurity operation in its history to eradicate red imported fire ants.

State, territory and federal agricultural ministers met in Melbourne on Wednesday and agreed to spend $411.4m over the next 10 years, endorsing a biosecurity operation second only in size and ambition to the country’s successful eradication of bovine tuberculosis, which started in the 1970 and took nearly three decades.

The eradication effort has been spearheaded by an unlikely alliance of environmentalists and farmers, who are equally concerned about the devastating effects the ants would have on Australia’s lifestyle, economy and environment if they become established.

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