Keep biosecurity in mind when helping Kangaroo Island through bushfires

Army Reservists hose down the Strathalbyn CFS fire truck at the wash down facility installed at the staging area for fire activity. Vehicles are being washed down to prevent the spread of diseases such as phytophthora.
Army Reservists hose down the Strathalbyn CFS fire truck at the wash down facility installed at the staging area for fire activity. Vehicles are being washed down to prevent the spread of diseases such as phytophthora.

There has been an outpouring of love and support for Kangaroo Island following the devastating bushfire over the festive season, but among the donations and offers of help, some may inadvertently harm the long-term future of the island.

NRKI have prepared a web resource to help advise people on recovery options that may inadvertently affect the island's biosecurity called Biosecurity and Bushfires which can be viewed here.

Among the thousands of animals that have been impacted by the bushfires are the island's bees. The Ligurian bees that are found on KI are prized by the honey industry and have strict biosecurity laws in place to help protect their uniqueness.

Andrew Triggs, Biosecurity Liaison Officer at Natural Resources Kangaroo Island (NRKI), says that it is imperative that attempts to help repopulate bees on the island are focused on supporting the surviving bee population to ensure it remains disease and pest free.

"Bringing bees to the island from elsewhere is something that could decimate the island's honey industry because the Ligurian bees found on KI are unique to the island and we need to prevent the possibility that KI may lose its unique selling point on honey," Mr Triggs said.

No honey please!

No honey please!

There have also been offers to bring fruit and vegetables over to the island to be dumped in fire-affected areas to help feed the wildlife, another well-meaning but misdirected offer of help.

"Kangaroo Island is free of many agricultural pests and diseases found on the mainland, a reason why no unwashed potatoes can be brought over," Mr Triggs said.

"Also, by dumping unchecked food sources, or food that may be harbouring flies and larvae, on the island we risk inadvertently exposing its agricultural industries and unique environment to harmful pests and diseases."

There is also a need for animal feed being brought to the island to be weed free or sourced from properties with the equivalent weed status as Kangaroo Island.

"Most farmers on KI will be aware of the risks surrounding the import of fodder and are very careful about where they buy theirs, but there is also a need to educate anyone offering to bring fodder to the island," Mr Triggs said.

"People seeking to bring fodder, seed and hay to the island as animal feed should first contact Livestock SA on 8297 2299, visit the PIRSA website or download our Fodder Management Guidelines here."

If you are planning to bring anything to the island and are unsure if it will affect the island's biosecurity, please contact the Natural Resources Centre, 37 Dauncey Street, Kingscote call (08) 8553 4444 or email kinrc@sa.gov.au

Useful links:

PIRSA has a 24-hour number - 1800 255 556 - available for any primary producer and animal owner seeking urgent assistance and information.

This story Keep biosecurity in mind when helping Kangaroo Island through bushfires first appeared on The Islander.

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