As hunting seasons continue around the area, state agencies are asking hunters to watch out for noxious weeds, to report any they find and to take easy steps to prevent their spread.
The Washington Invasive Species Council, State Noxious Weed Control Board, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Fish and Wildlife are reminding hunters that boots and equipment that might carry noxious weed seeds could spread these destructive plants to new areas.
This could lead to damaged habitat and poor conditions for wildlife.
They ask hunters to clean their boots and gear, and report any noxious weeds they find to help the State inventory these species – especially new infestations.
“It is everyone’s responsibility to help protect the backcountry and wildlife from the devastating impacts of invasive, noxious weeds,” said Alison Halpern, executive secretary for the Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board. “Brushing off your boots and gear takes just a few minutes but has such lasting effects by preventing further spread of invasive species.”
Hunters are being asked to clean all mud, seeds and plant parts from their boots, vehicles and equipment before entering the woods so that invasive plants from their homes are not accidentally introduced to the backcountry.
Everything should again be cleaned before leaving.
“The last thing you want is to introduce a problem plant to your own yard that you picked up while hunting,” said Justin Bush, executive coordinator for the Washington Invasive Species Council. “The importance of cleaning boots and equipment cannot be understated. As a personal example, a hunting companion introduced poison hemlock to his yard after a bird hunting trip we took in 2015. Luckily, a friend sent me a photo and request to identify the plant before his mother picked the flower for a dinner table bouquet. Gone differently, someone could have been poisoned.”
Hunters can learn about which noxious weeds to watch out for by visiting the noxious weed board website at www.nwcb.wa.gov.
They say, if you spot one of these species while hunting;
“Prevent the introduction and spread of noxious weeds. It’s far less expensive than trying to remove species once they arrive,” Bush said. “If you value the experience of hunting, quality habitat and abundant wildlife then take a few minutes to preserve it.”
You can also report them using the WA Invasive mobile app.
If possible, take photos and note GPS location before emailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org.