A LOCAL angler has raised concerns about a dangerous invasive plant growing along Strabane river banks and beyond.
According to angler Ronnie Quiqley, invasive giant hogweed, which can grow to heights of three metres and can cause third degree burns, is blighting banks along the Foyle and Mourne rivers.
“Hogweed is very dangerous and cause nasty burns if you touch it,” Mr Quiqley said. “The problem is widespread and is quickly spiralling out of control. I am concerned about anglers by the banks, people walking dogs and children who may not know the real dangers of the plant.”
Mr Quigley warns that chemicals in the sap of the plant can cause photodermatitis or photosensitivity- where the skin becomes very sensitive to sunlight and may suffer blistering, pigmentation and long-lasting scars.
Last week, the angler discovered a hogweed plants almost twice his height on the banks of the River Foyle near Lifford.
“I’ve never seen it so bad, and speaking to other anglers, nor have they.
“In recent days I heard of an angler fishing at the Faughan River who suffered nasty burns from hogweed. It is currently the peak growing season for hogweed, and it is fair to say river banks are rife.
“In the past various local authorities have tried to kill it, but it is a big job. Authorities take the stance of advising people to be vigilant, but I feel this year the problem is worse than ever.”
Responding to the issue a spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs said, “Our remit would be to advise, raise awareness and, when funds such as the Environment Fund are available, support NGOs and stakeholders to manage and eradicate alien invasive species (AIS) such as giant hogweed.
“Where there is a health and safety issue for members of the public, we provide warning signage for landowners to download from the Invasive Species Ireland website.
“We also work closely with local council officers where there is a health and safety issue in a public area by passing on reports to biodiversity officers.”
Posted: 8:00 pm June 29, 2018