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Four-legged weapon on Fireweed

Baxter the Fireweed protection dog

The Tablelands Regional Council (TRC) have announced that they have a new weapon in their war on Fireweed.

Deputy Mayor Kevin Cardew said that Fireweed is a toxic plant that competes with pastures and can cause livestock to lose condition and die “our region has the only known infestation in Far North Queensland,” he said

The TRC is now using man’s best friend to help eradicate the weed.

“We have been working with landowners for several years to map and treat infestations, and we recently received a grant to use a detector dog to look for plants.” Mr Cardew said

Over the next three months Baxter the border collie and his handler Jacqui Richards, from Dogs for Conservation, are working with TRC staff, landowners and volunteers to survey outside of currently known Fireweed areas.

The aim is to establish the full extent of infestations so they can be targeted for control.

Mr Cardew said Baxter’s superior detection skills can locate small and isolated plants, even in long grass, while humans typically can only detect flowering specimens in relatively open areas.

“During Baxter’s first patrol he located several young seedlings, which increased the area of a known infestation.”

“Keep your eye out for Fireweed as you travel around the Tablelands — it looks similar to some native species but the 13 petals are a giveaway. “

Deputy Mayor Cardew said that “If you think you have found Fireweed, don’t move it.”

If you think you have Fireweed on your property email info@trc.qld.gov.au or call 1300 362 242

This project received grant funding from the Australian Government’s Communities Environment Program.

Fireweed looks similar to some native species but has 13 petals.

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