Ragwort poses a danger to animals in East Lancashire
6:00pm Monday 10th September 2012 in News
Ragwort is posing a danger to animals across Lancashire after perfect growing conditions this summer.
Landowners, local authrorities and farmers are facing a battle to eracidate the bright yellow toxic weed which has become a familiar sight on waste land, railways and roadsides.
If eaten by horses, ponies or cattle the effects can have serious health implications and can be fatal in some circumstances. The plant is regularly monitored and kept under control each year, but this year is thought to present an extra challenge.
The Highways Agency has rolled out a programme of controlling the weed, which has seen an explosion during the summer months.
The National Farmers’ Union say the problem is significant this year.
Andrew Rothwell, Clitheroe NFU group secretary, said: “The rain has seen the plant spread to a great degree and it doesn’t help it’s happened at this time of year, when it’s in flower.
“Anyone can see the plant growing on railway lines, near river banks – anywhere it can. It’s a nightmare for farmers, because if it’s near grazing animals the results are very serious indeed.”
The Highways Agency says it has identified high-risk areas where historically a large amount of the plant has been produced within 50 metres of horses and other grazing animals.
A spokesman said: “We treat these areas proactively and spray in an attempt to control the spread.
“New areas may appear each year as the seed can remain dormant for up to 20 years. Should these areas be adjacent to livestock, then we would carry out a hand pulling.
“We will never remove all the ragwort and this is not the intention.”