MAF Biosecurity New Zealand declares Red Imported Fire Ants eradicated from Whirinaki

24 April 2009

Following an intensive three year surveillance programme MAF Biosecurity New Zealand (MAFBNZ) has declared the successful eradication of the Red Imported Fire Ant from the Whirinaki area, effective 4pm Wednesday 22 April 2009.

The movement control area, extending 2 kilometres out from the original nest site at Whirinaki, was put in place in and around Whirinaki following the discovery of a single Red Imported Fire Ant nest at the Pan Pac Forest Products site in Whirinaki in June 2006. This covered an area on State Highway 2 between the Esk River in the south, Whirinaki Bluff in the north, and an arc between those points from the coast to two kilometres inland.

Movement controls were put in place to prevent the inadvertent spread of any remaining fire ant colonies on contaminated material by placing restrictions on moving risk items beyond a single property within the Controlled Area, or out of the Controlled Area without prior approval.

MAFBNZ spokesperson Sonya Bissmire said the controlled area was essential from a biosecurity point of view and, while this was effective, it did cause quite a lot of extra work for people working and living in the within the area.

"We greatly appreciate the excellent co-operation received from right across the community in complying with the movement restrictions. There must have been times when it was a hindrance to their daily routine but we received very few complaints and compliance was never really an issue. The results of this much appreciated co-operation speak for themselves in that we are now able to declare the Whirinaki area free of Red Imported Fire Ants."

Sonya said despite intensive surveillance no further Red Imported Fire Ants had been detected during the three year eradication programme carried out by MAFBNZ and their contractors.

"During the three year eradication programme surveillance teams carried out an extensive baiting programme designed to detect fire ant colonies and ensure eradication is complete. Over 900,000 samples were collected and checked for RIFA infestation. In addition six aerial treatments, of fire ant bait were carried out in those areas that could not be covered effectively and safely on foot."

She said with no further finds the three year eradication programme is complete and MAFBNZ will now lift all movement restrictions and declare RIFA eradicated from the Napier area.

More information regarding Red Imported Fire Ants is available on the MAFBNZ website


Annie Wright, Senior Communications Adviser, Biosecurity New Zealand 04 894 0654 or 029 894 0654

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