Fall has arrived and with it the opening of hunting seasons in Idaho. State noxious weed officials ask hunters to be especially careful not to unknowingly spread noxious weeds to even more areas of the Idaho backcountry.
ATVs driven off-road by hunters can pick up and carry noxious weed seeds from one area to another, as can the trailers upon which they are carried. Hay used for pack animals also can make its way via animal waste to create new infestations. Even dogs used in upland bird hunting can get seeds lodged in their fur and carry weed seeds to new areas.
"Those are just a few of the ways in which noxious weeds can be unknowingly spread from one area to another. Noxious weeds such as Yellow starthistle, Spotted knapweed, Rush skeletonweed and Leafy spurge choke out native vegetation, which choke out native vegetation and ultimately deprives starve deer, elk and other big game wildlife of their natural food source," said Roger Batt, Idaho Noxious Weed Awareness Campaign coordinator.
There are currently three dozen species of noxious weeds identified in Idaho that pose a serious threat to the state’s economy, ecology and agriculture.Weed experts estimate that about 14 percent of Idaho’s lands – approximately 12,000 square miles – has been taken over by noxious weeds, causing more than $300 million in direct damage to the economy, agriculture and wildlife lands.
Weed authorities say the best way hunters and recreationalists can help control noxious weeds is to stop them from spreading. Here are some tips :
"If we all pull together, we can stop the spread of these harmful invaders and help protect big game habitat. Noxious weeds are an ugly reality in Idaho and they are no joking matter.
Hunters, recreationalists or sportsmen care about Idaho’s wildlife and big game populations and that means they also need to be concerned about the threat noxious weeds can pose to the state’s wildlife population," Batt added.
Weed officials also point to a special free Idaho Noxious Weed Guidebook as being of great help to hunters and outdoor recreationalists in identifying the different noxious weeds. The detail- packed, 76-page book has color photos of noxious weeds, plus detailed information about how to identify the different species of noxious weeds.
"Equally important, the publication also includes
a special noxious weed control guide that will teach people what to
do to control specific noxious weeds," Batt added.