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Burning to control pest snails in East Wagga - Updated

An area of vacant industrial land in Riedell Street, East Wagga will be burnt on Wednesday 9 May from 10.30am, weather permitting to address a biosecurity threat from an infestation of Common White Snails, an exotic pest that threatens the multi-million dollar grains industry in NSW.

Coordinated by Riverina Local Land Services, the burn will be carried out by officers from Fire & Rescue NSW and the Rural Fire Service based in Wagga. All business owners in the immediate vicinity of the site have been notified and the owners of the land and neighboring property owners have been supportive of all efforts to control the spread of this pest.

The site is close to the netball courts and football fields at the Exhibition Centre in Riedell Street, so the burning is being timed for Wednesday 9 May prior to expected rainfall, so that smoke will have dissipated by the weekend when the area is used for sport. People with asthma or other conditions that may be affected by residual smoke or smell are warned to take precautions if in the area.

Fire is the most effective way to control the Common White Snail, an exotic pest species that threatens economic loss of millions of dollars for the grains industry if it reaches agricultural land and contaminates grain or fodder. Its risk to export markets for grain cannot be underestimated.

White snails can spread readily on tyres or machinery moving around the Riverina and the proximity of the site to a transport terminal increases the risk posed by this pest. This is not your common old garden snail, but a small round snail, white in colour often with brown-grey rings on its shell. Common White Snails multiply quickly with one pair producing 400 young snails in one breeding season.

Riverina Local Land Services’ Ray Willis, Manager of Biosecurity and Emergency Services, said that the cooperation from owners, neighbours, Wagga City Council, Fire & Rescue NSW and the Rural Fire Service had been outstanding.

“There is a lot of logistics to undertaking this type of operation in a built-up area, with many neighboring properties and the public using recreational areas nearby.

“We really appreciate the positive way everyone is working together to get the job done while minimizing the impact on the surrounding area.

“People are warned to stay away from that part of Riedell Street and Copland Street on 9 May as there will be traffic control in place and we want to reduce congestion and any health hazard from smoke”, he added.

“This operation is a great demonstration of how owners and government agencies can work together to address obligations under the Biosecurity Act to take actions that address their general biosecurity duty,” Mr. Willis said.

The burning is aimed to be undertaken before the autumn rains set in, and to minimise the impact on businesses, schools and recreation facilities nearby.

Anyone wanting more information can contact Lisa Castleman at Riverina Local Land services on 02 6923 6359.

ENDS

All inquiries for media to attend burn: Lisa Castleman, Riverina Local Land Services 0427 201 963