Hunting season brings threats to spreading weeds
The approach of fall is accompanied by the haunting sound of bugling elk emanating from Idahos forests. Many hunters will travel to forests and mountains to fill their tags for big game.
Idaho hunters are as likely to encounter noxious weeds as they are big game. Idahos weed officials hope hunters wont spread weeds during their hunting expedition.
"Noxious weeds, such as yellow star thistle, spotted knapweed, rush skeletonweed and leafy spurge, can devastate wildlife habitat. These non-native plants choke out native vegetation, which starve deer, elk and other wildlife of their natural food source, said Roger Batt, coordinator for the Idaho Weed Awareness Campaign.
To understand the impact of noxious weeds on Idaho wildlife, Batt suggests picturing a hungry elk walking for days without finding its natural and healthy food source because of noxious weed infestations in the area. After a few weeks of searching unsuccessfully for forage, the elk becomes weak and vulnerable to predators or starvation.
The U.S. government recognizes approximately 4,000 exotic plants as pests. Weed officials say at least 400 of these plant species have gained a foothold in the Gem state.
In Idaho, officials estimate that about 14 percent of Idahos lands approximately 12,000 square miles has been taken over by noxious weeds, causing more than $300 million in direct damages to the states economy, agriculture and wildlife.
Noxious weeds infest approximately 100 million acres of North America. They choke out more than 3 million acres each year and invade an estimated 6 square miles of U.S. Forest and BLM land every day. Already, some 7 million acres of national parks have been taken over by noxious weeds.
Noxious weeds are an ugly reality in Idaho, and they are not a joking matter, Batt adds
Hunters, recreationalists and visitors need to be concerned about the threat of noxious weeds to Idahos wildlife.
Weed authorities say one of 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 wildlife habitat. Were
hoping outdoors people will join us in the fight against noxious weeds
and the threats they pose to Idahos wildlife habitat, agriculture
and economy, Batt added.