TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Division of Plant Industry (DPI), along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), announced the eradication of the giant African land snail (GALS) from Broward and Miami-Dade counties. This eradication announcement marks only the second time this pest has been eradicated in the world, both in South Florida.
For the past 11 years, the FDACS Division of Plant Industry has worked toward eradication through multiple rounds of visual surveys and inspections, K-9 detector dog surveys and inspections, manual collection and treatment programs. In total, 168,538 snails were collected from 32 core population areas comprised of thousands of properties.
This program has not just been a collaboration of the USDA and FDACS, but also the community. Over the years, multiple community and cultural groups, homeowners’ associations, green waste facilities, and homeowners themselves played strategic roles in disseminating the message of this invasive pest and the importance to report any sightings to the FDACS-DPI helpline. Because of this, 97 percent of the identified core population areas were reported by the public.
Richard Miranda, State Plant Health Director with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service noted that successful cooperation between State and Federal agencies and members of the public made it all possible.
“We are pleased to play a role in this collaborative success by sharing technical expertise, providing financial support, training detector K-9s that played a key role in finding the snails, and working with FDACS on survey and research efforts,” said Miranda. “Public involvement was also essential to this eradication, and we ask the public to remain vigilant by still keeping an eye out for the pest.”
The giant African land snail is a highly invasive agricultural pest, known to feed on over 500 varieties of plants. They also pose a risk to humans and animals by carrying rat lung worm, a parasite that can cause meningitis in humans.
Giant African land snail is a federally regulated pest and both the USDA and DPI will continue to remain vigilant in their commitments to safeguard American agriculture through surveys, early detection, and rapid response. The public should continue to watch for the snails and report suspects to the FDACS-DPI hotline at 1-888-397-1517.