Springer spaniels support parthenium pursuit

10 May 2023

NSW state and local government biosecurity specialists this week worked with scent detection dogs, Connor and Dash, to search for the invasive parthenium weed in Gunnedah and Tamworth.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) State Priority Weeds coordinator, Bill Davidson, said detection dogs support DPI’s ongoing commitment to eradicate every incursion of the weed to keep NSW parthenium-free.

"Detection dogs play an important role in sniffing out newly germinated weeds, which are difficult to find in dense undergrowth and could be missed by people,” Mr Davidson said.

“DPI has contracted Connor and Dash, English springer spaniels with proven ability in finding very small seedlings.

“Today we are working with the dogs’ handler and Tamworth Regional Council weeds biosecurity officers to conduct ongoing surveillance along Goonoo Goonoo Creek tributaries, downstream from an infestation site.

“Yesterday we used the dogs near Gunnedah - these known sites are monitored every three weeks for up to five years to ensure the seed bank is exhausted and parthenium weed is eradicated.”

Since April 2020, 48 parthenium infestations have been detected in NSW, following increased movement of hay and grain into NSW from Queensland during drought.

Mr Davidson congratulated the community, who have kept local councils and NSW DPI informed of weed incursions.

“Please contact the NSW DPI Biosecurity Helpline, 1800 680 244 or your local council for plant identification and assistance if you see any plants you suspect may be parthenium or another invasive weed,” he said.

Parthenium weed, Parthenium hysterophorus, spreads rapidly, is dangerous to grazing animals and reduces crop and land values. Contact with the plant or pollen can cause serious allergic reactions in people.

Statewide surveillance of known high-risk areas and eradication of parthenium weed is continuing to keep NSW free of the weed. NSW DPI’s successful parthenium eradication program has benefited the state since 1982.

More information about parthenium weed and how to identify the plant at different growth stages is available from NSW DPI.

*images available on request

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