Multi-pronged approach to manage prickly problem
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A NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) public awareness campaign focussed on community participation, a council herbicide blitz and a tiny insect are part of plans to manage Hudson pear cactus in the State’s north-west.
The new awareness campaign asks locals and visitors to watch out for Hudson pear, immediately remove segments of the prickly weed if they run into it and report new outbreaks to council weeds officers.
Community involvement is vital to management of the weed which now infests 60 thousand hectares in opal mining areas around Lightning Ridge and Grawin, with outbreaks near Coonamble, Brewarrina and Goodooga.
NSW DPI biological weed control coordinator, Royce Holtkamp, said local landholders, miners and tourism operators have already come on board in the Lightning Ridge area.
"As an add-on to the massive chemical assault on more than 60 thousand hectares of Hudson pear by the Castlereagh Macquarie County Council, miners are using back packs supplied by the Lightning Ridge Miners Association to spray the weed," Mr Holtkamp said.
"This Mexican cactus is one of the nastiest weeds I’ve ever seen - it has very savage spines which can easily pierce leather, tyres and flesh.
"We recommend that Hudson pear is removed from tyres and boots with pliers and because just one small segment can grow into a huge bush people should limit its spread."
Livestock, native and feral animals, vehicles and water movement have been associated with the distribution of Hudson pear which poses a threat to human health and safety, the environment and agricultural production.
The use of a biological control agent to manage the cactus is also being explored.
"It’s a cochineal insect from Mexico similar to those used to manage prickly pear," he said.
"We’re in the process of getting approval to bring it through quarantine, investigate its effectiveness and make sure it won’t affect any desirable plants."
Hudson pear information is available from NSW DPI, the Castlereagh Macquarie County Council, Lightning Ridge Miners’ Association, a number of tourism outlets in the Lightning Ridge area and www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/agriculture/pests-weeds/weeds/profiles
Contact Royce Holtkamp for details of the biological control proposal for Hudson pear, (02) 6763 1234.
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Media contact: Bernadette York, (02) 6391 3936 or 0427 773 785