Sheep the answer to ‘endemic’ toxic plant in Moray

Toxic giant hogweed holds no fear for blackface sheep.

A pilot project undertaken in neighbouring Aberdeenshire could hold the key to eradicating a toxic wild plant from Moray.

Last month insideMoray reported an incident at Sanquhar Pond in Forres where a family pet suffered injuries believed to have been caused when it came into contact with Giant Hogweed.

The plant has seen an endemic spread in and around Forres – causing considerable concern as it is considered dangerous to humans because it produces a sap that can cause severe chemical burns.

Owner Tess Keennan said injuries to her dog appeared 24 hours after the pair visited Sanquhar Pond – and a vet later identified the problem as being caused by giant hogweed.

A Moray Council spokesman said at the time that an inspection would be carried out and if giant hogweed was found on land for which they were responsible it would be dealt with.

Now a pilot project carried out in Aberdeenshire could pose the answer to the safe removal of giant hogweed.

The project was undertaken alongside the Deveron where giant hogweed had been identified – a flock of blackface sheep were set loose to graze in the area and grazed their way through a jungle of the toxic weed.

Pigmentation on the skin of the sheep gives them protection from the plant. Now after the successful test other areas in Aberdeenshire where the weed has been identified will soon become grazing areas for the sheep.

A spokesman for Scottish Natural Heritage, who funded the experiment, described the results as “promising”.

See Also:

Warnings of unseen dangers in Moray’s environment

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