The common cattle tick Boophilus microplus has been a major economic pest to cattle producers in the tick-infested area of Queensland since its arrival from Java in 1872. Boophilus microplus affects cattle directly by reducing potential yield and indirectly through the transmission of blood parasites. Estimates by the Cattle Tick Commission (1973) placed the total cost of control and lost production caused by Boophilus microplus at approximately $33 million per annum (approximately $183 million in 1995 dollar terms). The long-standing policy of the Queensland Government towards the cattle tick is the maintenance of a ‘tick-line’ which divides Queensland into tick-free and tick-infested (ticky) areas. Regulations apply to the movement of cattle from the tick-infested to the tick free areas. This policy has been developed on a historical rather than economic basis and no real analysis of the costs and benefits of the current regulatory stance has been undertaken. In recent years, however, a range of issues have emerged which have elements within the cattle industry and government questioning the long-term effectiveness of the current tick control strategies and regulations. These issues include: • increased levels of resistance to the current stock of pesticides and the lack of development of new chemical compounds designed to treat Boophilus microplus; • chemical residues in Queensland beef being found in the United States and Japan and the possibility of Queensland beef products being excluded from key export markets; and • changing demands in the domestic and international markets for beef and greater productivity in the face of present and potential competitors in key export markets. This paper presents a review of the status of the cattle-tick in Queensland and identifies issues that need to be addressed and quantified in order to evaluate the economic consequences of the current tick regulations. It also examines the issues involved in developing alternative strategies, such as the removal of the tick-line or eradication of ticks.


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