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Country News - 2002

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Beware: golden headed killer
Monday 05 August

A golden-headed killer is stalking Britain's countryside and all landowners, land managers and gardeners are being warned to wipe it out before it strikes. Every year horses and other animals die a slow, lingering death from ragwort poisoning. Ragwort is an injurious weed that causes progressive and irreversible liver damage. It is covered by the 1959 Weeds Act and it is an offence to let it grow on your land.

Ragwort in flower*The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) is reminding local authorities, highway authorities, all landowners, managers, and public utilities that they must act now if they are to control the killer weed ragwort.

Ragwort is now beginning to flower in abundance which may look attractive but unfortunately this also means it is beginning to seed. Each ragwort plant can produce 150,000 air-borne seeds which can lie dormant in the soil for up to 20 years.

Helen Lancaster, the CLA's NW Regional Surveyor sees the evidence every day. She says: "Many people are not aware of the dangers of ragwort. Even more worrying is the amount of ragwort I see appearing alongside railways and roads, particularly motorways and dual carriageways.

"Ragwort may appear attractive and even add a splash of colour to verges, but this is part of the problem. These are the breeding grounds for this killer weed that spreads across the countryside like wildfire, causing serious problems for animal owners throughout the northwest. Authorities need to act now to save serious problems at a later date."

The CLA has produced a guide for landowners and authorities which is available by sending a DL sized SAE to: The Country Land and Business Association, North West Regional Office, Dalton Hall Stable Yard, Burton, Carnforth Lancs LA6 1NJ

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