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15 December 2005
Biosecurity New Zealand will conduct the final stages of its Red Imported
Fire Ant (RIFA) eradication programme in Napier this month and next February.
The programme involves distributing ant bait by blowing it over the face of
Bluff Hill from the top, and aerially by helicopter. The work is
weather-dependent and needs to be done during still or very light winds and when
no rain is expected for 24 hours.
Simon O'Connor, Senior Adviser – Invasive Ant Programme for Biosecurity New
Zealand, is hopeful that the first application will be applied between the 19th
and 31st of December.
"The bait is not harmful to pets or humans in the doses that we will be
applying, but will kill ants and other ground-foraging insects," he says. "The
active ingredient in the bait breaks down rapidly in sunlight and will generally
be deactivated in a few days. Members of the public should not be affected by it
RIFA was first detected and treated at the Port of Napier in 2004. Since then
Biosecurity New Zealand has done two intensive surveys of the port and adjoining
residential area, with no further RIFA discoveries. However, Bluff Hill was not
able to be covered due to access and safety issues.
"We are fairly confident there are no ants in the Bluff Hill area, but we
believe it is still sensible to take a precautionary approach," says Simon
O'Connor. "It's in the best interests of everyone that we ensure this pest does
not become established in New Zealand because it would have a significant impact
on our environment and economy, as well as the health and lifestyles of people
living in affected areas."
Several roads will be closed for three to four hours during the aerial
operation to avoid the risk of 'rubber-neckers' stopping to have a look while
driving and causing accidents. Roads affected are: Hornsey Road, Light House
Road from the Thompson Road intersection, and Breakwater Road in between the two
port gates. An alternative route will be Shakespeare and Coote Roads, between
Battery and Breakwater Roads.
Public notices giving details of road closures will be broadcast on radio
stations and published in newspapers.
Media contact: Helen Keyes Senior Communications Adviser Biosecurity New
Zealand 027 285 5715 firstname.lastname@example.org