Specially trained odour detector dogs have been called in to assist State Government authorities to sniff out one of the world’s most invasive pests.
Red imported fire ant was recently detected at Fremantle Port, and the State Government is taking every step to stop its possible spread.
Black labradors Willow and Cola, who have nine years of collective experience in detecting red imported fire ant, have been loaned from the Queensland Government to aid Western Australian authorities’ surveillance efforts.
The dogs have a 95 per cent success rate in identifying fire ants, often long before they become visible to the human eye.
Their efforts will support the local biosecurity response to prevent this invasive pest from South America from becoming established in WA and threatening the environment, agriculture, the economy and human health.
A Quarantine Area Notice is now in place in parts of Fremantle, restricting a range of host materials from potentially spreading the pest to other locations.
For more details about the movement restrictions, visit https://www.agric.wa.gov.au. Suspected ant sightings should be reported to the department using its MyPestGuideTM Reporter app or online at https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/pests-weeds-diseases/mypestguide. Alternatively contact the Pest and Disease Information Service on (08) 9368 3080 or email@example.com
As stated by Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan:
“Willow and Cola have been working with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s biosecurity response, playing a crucial role in surveillance efforts, particularly detecting ants that could be underground and not visible to the naked eye.
“DPIRD has moved quickly to prevent this aggressive ant, known for its fiery sting, its capacity to damage crops and ability to establish ‘super colonies’, from becoming established in WA.
“We thank the Queensland Government for providing Willow, Cola and their handler, and for sharing knowledge and experience in dealing with red imported fire ants.
“The Fremantle community’s support in this response is critical and we ask residents and businesses to continue to be vigilant and to report any sightings of unfamiliar ants to the Pest and Disease Information Service or use the MyPestGuide app.
“We also ask residents and businesses to be mindful of movement restrictions to prevent the possible spread of the pest, which includes conditions on host material, like soil, potted plants, mulch, hay, manure and turf being moved outside the quarantine area.”