Check out what we've been up to in Aug/ Sep 2021
Welcome Luna and Pretzel
Fury, the Wet Tropics Management Authority’s first odour detection dog has new canine friends to join her in the field. Meet Luna and Pretzel, the newest recruits and the canine frontline for the Authority’s yellow crazy ant eradication program. Luna and Pretzel arrived in early September 2021 from Brisbane where they received yellow crazy ant odour detection training from Credible Canines Pty Ltd. Both Luna and Pretzel are female black Labrador Retrievers. Luna is two and Pretzel is three years old.
Dog handler, Stuart Biggs will take on Pretzel as his second working dog, alongside Fury. Israel Hajbi, the second dog handler who joined the Authority earlier this year will be the handler for new teammate, Luna (pictured) and both are already forming a strong bond.
The dogs and handlers were sent to Townsville for training which involved transitioning the dogs from detecting yellow crazy ant odour on dollies and botanicals to detecting live yellow crazy ants in the field. The Authority’s program has reduced yellow crazy ant numbers in the Cairns region to the point where there are insufficient sites that can reliably provide ants for this transition training. When the dogs can successfully transition to detecting live ants in the field, they will then go through a validation process.
Validation is a series of tests to ensure the dogs are detecting yellow crazy ants in different settings and environments. If Luna and Pretzel can pass validation, they will be approved to work in the field.
Odour detection dogs improve the detection rate when normal survey methods can’t detect low numbers of remaining yellow crazy ants.
Minister David Littleproud pays a visit
The Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia, the Honourable David Littleproud, got up close and personal with yellow crazy ants early in September, to learn first-hand about the efforts to eradicate them from the Wet Tropics Area and environs. While in Cairns he met with the Authority’s yellow crazy ant eradication team and representatives of the sugar industry. The Minister learned about how the Authority works with the community to eradicate yellow crazy ants and reduce the risk of moving them during farming operations.
Sugarcane accounts for 33% of the total area treated for yellow crazy ants and farmers are the first line of defence for the World Heritage Area. Minister Littleproud also took the opportunity to join local sugarcane harvesting contractor David Veronese, in his harvester, to hear first-hand how yellow crazy ants impact on local agriculture, and the long-standing partnership between the sugar industry and the Authority.
Carnival on Collins 2021
On Father’s Day the Taskforce attended Carnival on Collins as part of the finale of Cairns Festival. We shared a stall with the Authority. Staff brought live yellow crazy ants to raise awareness of the threats yellow crazy ants pose to our precious Wet Tropics biodiversity, agriculture and lifestyle. The Authority works to protect the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area – guided by the best available science.
Biosecurity Queensland had a stall close by with live electric ants which cleared up any confusion for people not knowing the difference between both of these invasive ants. The live yellow crazy ants attracted quite a crowd, with 200 people dropping in over the day to learn more about our local infestations and recognise yellow crazy ants. We also had four property checks booked in. Thank you to our Taskforce volunteer Tim for helping out on the day.
FUN FACT: Did you know? The male yellow crazy ant has wings, is rarely seen because he does not contribute to colony foraging or maintenance and his sole purpose is to mate!
Cairns and Hinterland Steiner School spring fair
The Taskforce joined with Mike Greasley from Biosecurity Queensland’s National Electric Ant Eradication Program, to attend the Cairns & Hinterland Steiner School Spring Fair. Almost 40 people visited our stall and we received requests for five back yard checks from residents in Kuranda and North Cairns. Kuranda has both yellow crazy ants and electric ant infestations, which is why it’s so important for our community to be aware of these invasive ants and report them. A huge thanks to our two volunteers Tim and Bernd for representing the Community Taskforce at the Spring Fair.
What’s Coming Up
You want to get involved in our awesome events?
Kuranda Spring Fair celebrates 4o years
Kuranda community are celebrating 40 years and bringing back the Kuranda Spring Fair. The Taskforce will be joining in the festivities with a yellow crazy ant stall.
WHERE: Kuranda Amphitheatre, 5 Barron Falls Rd, Kuranda QLD
WHEN: Sunday October 2021 from 12 noon – 6 pm. If you would like to get involved and come along to volunteer please contact firstname.lastname@example.org