Hon Jackie Jarvis MLC

Hon Jackie Jarvis MLC

Minister for Agriculture and Food; Forestry; Small Business

    Odour detector dog helps snuff out browsing ants

    6/03/2023 7:00 AM
    • Odour detection dog inspections aid surveillance for serious invasive ant pest
    • McGowan Government on track to eradicate biosecurity threat to agriculture and the environment

    Western Australia is a step closer to declaring Area Freedom from the invasive pest, browsing ant, following final surveillance by a specialist odour detection dog.


    A targeted eradication campaign has been underway for four years to manage infestations of browsing ant at Welshpool, Bayswater, Kewdale, Rockingham and Fremantle Port.


    Agriculture and Food Minister Jackie Jarvis met highly trained black Labrador 'Cola' during a two week visit to inspect the five metropolitan sites for the pest, which poses a serious threat to horticulture crops and gardens.


    Cola and her handler made no detections, verifying field surveillance by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) over the past four years.


    The formal process of declaring Area Freedom from the browsing ant will now commence.


    Progress towards eradication is the result of a successful treatment program by DPIRD, working in collaboration with the community, local government and State agencies.


    Cola is part of the Queensland-based National Fire Ant Eradication Program and has previously visited WA to survey for red imported fire ant, which was detected at Fremantle Port in 2019.


    Red imported fire ant is one of the world's worst pests, originating from South America and can impact agriculture, the environment, the economy and social amenity.


    Surveillance for red imported fire ants was completed in April 2022 and a formal submission for Area Freedom is being prepared.


    Ongoing surveillance with no target species found over a two year period since the last detection provides evidence that demonstrates the absence of a pest to support an Area Freedom declaration.


    Comments attributed to Agriculture and Food Minister Jackie Jarvis:


    "It was great to meet Cola and her handler and to see these highly trained professionals at work, providing an essential service for our important browsing ant eradication effort.


    "These eradication campaigns for browsing ant and red imported fire ant are essential to protect our valuable agriculture industries, as well as the environment and the community from these tiny but destructive biosecurity threats.


    "The McGowan Government has made significant investments in biosecurity surveillance for a range of pests and diseases to aid early detection, which is vital to an effective biosecurity response, while also supporting access to valuable export markets."


    Minister's office - 6552 6200