‘Get rid of this killer weed’ campaign
Aug 16 2008 by Katie Campling, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
A PURGE on the deadly weed ragwort began in Huddersfield today.
Kirklees Council highways staff are spending today and tomorrow getting rid of the plant from public roads and streets.
But they will not be able to take action on private land, despite appeals from animal charity the RSPCA and the National Farmers’ Union, who have voiced concerns over the spread of poisonous weed.
Perfect growing weather has caused the ‘yellow peril’ to flourish on farmland, roadside verges and unused wasteland.
This means the weed can easily spread on to land where animals graze – and if eaten, it can be fatal.
Horses and livestock are particularly at risk of poisoning from ragwort.
It damages the liver, causing a painful death. Symptoms can include weight loss, depression, blindness, paralysis, loss of appetite, constipation, sunburn and jaundice.
A council spokesman urged people who know where the weed is growing to let them know via the Ross service on 0800 731 8765.
David Millard, RSPCA superintendent for the North, said animals were more likely to eat the tall flowering weed when dry conditions resulted in a shortage of grass or when it was mistakenly dried in hay.
He added: “Ragwort is a perennial weed and it needs to be dealt with every year. We are urging landowners to rid their fields and verges of this plant.
“Each plant can produce thousands of seeds. It is irresponsible of animal owners to allow it to grow in their fields, due to its life-threatening dangers.”
The weed is registered as ‘injurious’ under the 1959 Weeds Act, meaning landowners have a responsibility to control it.
The NFU is urging anyone who spots ragwort to pull up the plant. People handling it are advised to wear gloves and wash their hands afterwards, though it is not thought to be dangerous to humans.
Tim Coy, NFU group secretary for West Yorkshire, said: “It is a massive problem this year. We’ve had a lot of complaints.’’