HELENA - While the plant world wakes back up and begins to blossom again, so too do noxious and harmful weeds throughout Montana.
“They don't have the checks and balances that would keep them in place as they would in their native habitat, so they outcompete our native plants that we need for our wildlife for forage and birds, even fish. They infest rangeland and agricultural land and financially hurt that,” Montana Department of Agriculture Noxious Weed Task Force Coordinator Josh Wagoner said.
Gov. Greg Gianforte declared June 5 through June 11 Noxious Weed Awareness Week in Montana. The week is meant to bring attention to the harmful effects of noxious plants throughout Montana and the state’s network of those who manage and mitigate noxious weeds.
According to a 2017 report, noxious weeds are found across some 8.2 million acres or just under 10% of the state. Wagoner notes that noxious weeds not only hurt other plants but can be dangerous for people, wildlife, and agriculture.
“Say a Leafy Spurge has a latex that's kind of a milky substance when, the when, it breaks. A lot of them do actually. And it's an irritant to eyes and your hands. Knapweed, they say, has carcinogenic substances in it if you're pulling it without gloves. They recommend pulling with gloves. Some of these make wildlife and livestock sick. Some of them are fatal,” says Wagoner.
Noxious weeds can be costly to treat too It costs about $1.30 an acre just to treat spotted knapweed.
But Montanans can help fight these invasive species. The simplest route of ridding an area of noxious weeds is to simply pull them, with gloves. Other efforts even utilize drones and herbicides to tackle the work of multiple people at once. And making sure to clean and check your equipment and/or vehicle can help prevent spreading them to new areas.
You can find more information on noxious weeds by following this link: https://agr.mt.gov/Noxious-Weeds