Pest Management, Biodiversity and Wildlife
The Whitsunday Region is home to a diverse array of ecosystems, which supports many different plants and animals. Our Region includes a range of natural habitats for local plants and wildlife including tropical and sub-tropical rainforest, beach scrub, mangrove lined creeks, wetlands and open eucalypt forest.
We are fortunate to have many National Parks to protect our native plants and animals. There is a wide range of important habitats across the Region, including the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and several nationally important wetlands. These areas are home to many different native plants and animals, some of which are rare or threatened species and need to be protected. We can all do our part to protect our native plants and wildlife, by working together to control pest plants and animals.
As part of the Central Queensland Coast bioregion which features higher rainfall than surrounding areas, the Whitsunday Region is home to animals which are found nowhere else on earth, such as the Proserpine Rock-Wallaby.
The endangered Proserpine Rock-Wallaby can be found in the hills between Proserpine and Shute Harbour and prefers the subtropical vine rainforest. The Queensland Government has developed a recovery plan for the Proserpine Rock-Wallaby, which you can view here:
Did you know pest plants and animals are estimated to have an economic impact of $600 million a year on the Queensland economy? And there is over 150,000ha of land infested with declared weeds in the Whitsunday Region alone?
There are many different types of plants and animals which are considered pests in the Whitsunday Region, and which cause damage to our waterways, grazing land and agricultural industries. Some of these include feral pigs, cats and wild dogs, carp and tilapia in the waterways, and plants such as prickly pear and lantana.
To help combat the huge economic and environmental losses caused by pest species, we have a Whitsunday Biosecurity Plan and Surveillance Plan for Invasive Plants and Animals which guides proactive pest management across the Region.
Under the Queensland Biosecurity Act (2014), local governments are required to have a Biosecurity Plan which covers all private and public land. Our plan is consistent with the priorities and directions that are set by national, state and regional pest management strategies.
Biosecurity is an issue which affects everyone in the Whitsunday Region. We developed this plan in consultation with key stakeholders and the general community, and we review our priorities and actions on a regular basis with input from the community.
To protect our native plants, animals and diverse range of habitats, we need to remain informed about pests and take action to control their impact on our environment. You can do your part by making sure your pets are properly cared for, controlling pests on your property and reporting any pest animals or plants.
We have a feral animal control program to assist landholders to reduce feral animal numbers on their property, which includes activities such as trapping, baiting and aerial shooting. Find out more in our Report – Feral Animal Program.
These are the main pest animals in the Region:
- Feral pigs
- Wild dogs
- Yellow Crazy Ants
- Tilapia fish
- Feral deer
- Feral cats
- European rabbits
- European foxes
Weeds are one of the biggest threats to our natural biodiversity and can have a huge impact on agricultural businesses, so we have developed a Weed Washdown Strategy and Weed Management Program. This program offers financial incentives for certain landholders to buy herbicide and hire machinery to reduce weed infestations on their property.
You can view more information about specific invasive weeds on the Queensland Government website.
Mosquitoes are flying insects which can spread diseases such as Dengue Fever, Ross River Virus, Barmah Forest Virus and Japanese Encephalitis to humans and animals. Mosquitos can also spread heartworm in dogs.
Mosquitos breed in fresh or saltwater that has been stagnant for longer than five days, such as containers, drains, tidal areas and bodies of water. Mosquitoes can be blown many kilometres from their breeding sites to residential areas, where they can become a nuisance.
Some saltmarsh and freshwater mosquitoes are capable of transmitting diseases such as Ross River Virus, whereas others only cause nuisance. The Dengue Fever mosquito (Aedes Aegypti) breeds in artificial water-filled containers.
We conduct on-site inspections at various public areas across the Region, including roadsides, drains and parks where mosquitos are likely to breed. We use chemical control, such as Larvicides, as our preferred method to reduce the number of larvae at known breeding sites before they mature.
Tips to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites:
- Stay indoors when mosquitos are most active, at dawn and dusk
- Use a mosquito repellent when outdoors
- Cover up in light-coloured long-sleeved shorts, long pants and hat when outdoors
Tips to protect your home from mosquitos:
- Screen your doors and windows
- Keep gutters clean
- Remove all containers which could hold water in your yard
- Fill any holes which could hold water in your yard
- Tip out your pot plant bases once a week, or fill with sand
- Do not overwater your yard
- Chlorinate swimming pools
- Keep native fish in your ponds, dams or other permanent bodies of water
- Use mosquito-proof screens and flap valves at every opening of rainwater tanks
Find out more about Dengue Fever by viewing the Dengue Fever factsheet.
Yellow Crazy Ants
Yellow Crazy Ants are one of the biggest threats to our liveability, biodiversity and tourism industry, with current ‘known outbreaks’ at Shute Harbour, Hamilton Island, Funnel Bay and Woodwark. Yellow Crazy Ants have a wide range of impacts, costing our region over $150k to control outbreaks since 2018. In large numbers, they can disrupt entire ecosystems with their veracious appetites, aggressive nature and ability to create 'super colonies' across large areas, with a history of attacking pets and humans alike.
Review our fact sheet to understand the impacts of Yellow Crazy Ants and what to look out for. We anticipate that Yellow Crazy Ants are entering our region via construction materials or machinery from infested areas in Townsville, so industry professionals and residents nearby new renovations, construction or landscaping should be highly aware of how to identify Yellow Crazy Ants to ensure outbreaks can be managed.
Report Yellow Crazy Ants by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 1300 972 753. We will attend the site of the infestation to identify and prepare controls at no cost to you.
We have a diverse range of wildlife which call the Whitsunday Region home. Find out more below about some of the different species, why they are special and how you can help.
Flying foxes play an important role in the natural environment, especially with seed dispersal and pollination of our native plants. The Nature Conservation Act 1992 protects all flying foxes in Queensland.
We are aware of several flying fox roosts within our region, which are monitored by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection. Where we own or control land affected by flying foxes, and their presence significantly impacts residents or the community, we will consider appropriate non-lethal measures to manage flying fox roosts. The decision which is taken will be based on a risk assessment and all activities undertaken will meet all relevant guidelines.
Living with flying foxes can be challenging. Landholders with a flying fox roost on their property can do low impact activities like weeding, mulching, mowing and minor tree trimming near the roost. For all activities which are not considered low impact, landholders are required to apply for a permit from the Department of Environment and Science.
Flying foxes can carry viruses and bacteria which can be harmful to humans, so please avoid handling them. For more information view our Flying Fox Management Plan and Policy
Magpies can become a nuisance during nesting season, from August to November. The Queensland Government have good advice on how to live with magpies.
With 74 Islands and the Great Barrier Reef on our doorstep, the Whitsunday Region is famous for water-based activities such as snorkelling, diving, boating or swimming at the beach.
However, it is important to remember that we share the ocean with other animals which call marine waters their home. Some of these creatures, such as the Irukandji and Box Jellyfish, are potentially dangerous to humans.
Marine stinger nets are a product developed in North Queensland to protect ocean swimmers, by acting as a physical deterrent and barrier to Box Jellyfish and other large marine wildlife. We currently have two marine stinger nets in operation at the popular swimming locations of Cannonvale Beach and Boathaven Beach (also known as New Beach) in Airlie Beach. A netted enclosure is also installed at Dingo Beach.
To find out more about marine stingers, view the Marine Stingers factsheet.
Feeding native birds
Feeding our native wildlife is fun, but is it good for the animal? The Queensland Government have developed guidelines for feeding native birds.
The community are encouraged to report crocodile sightings through the State government website or the QWildlife app. The report of crocodile sightings helps the State government and council with the placement of crocodile warning signs and assists with keeping the community safe. For more information on crocodile management please refer to the Department of Environment and Science website.