A prickly situation: Cactus Month launched to raise awareness of pests threatening agriculture and the environment


Glen Coupar and Kay Bailey. Picture: Bruce Hunt d475838
Glen Coupar and Kay Bailey. Picture: Bruce Hunt d475838

IT’S a prickly problem and now the community is being mobilised to help stop the spread of cactus threatening agricultural industries and the environment.

Cactus Month was launched today and Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development biosecurity officer Glen Coupar said the declared plant pest was rampant in the eastern states and the Goldfields.

“Here in Perth cacti are common in the Perth Hills, particularly on old orchard sites in Pickering Brook and Bickley where Italians planted Indian figs to eat the fruit,” he said.

“In the Swan Valley prickly pear and Indian figs are commonly found on road sides and near old houses and have even infiltrated reserves.”

Dense infestations can spread and take over large areas, hindering grazing by livestock and also impacting the ecological biodiversity of the land.

There is also a risk to stock and wildlife of injury. Infestations can also hinder recreational use of the land by people.

To mark the start of Cactus Month Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan launched a new manual on how to control invasive cacti at a community event co-hosted with the City of Swan and the Shire of Mundaring.

The Managing Opuntioid Cacti in Australia manual provides information on control options, bringing together the expertise of government, community groups and land managers across Australia.

Ms MacTiernan urged landholders and community groups to spot, report and control weedy cactus to stop infestations from spreading.

“This manual provides a fantastic resource to help landholders boost their control efforts, presenting a step-by-step guide, from understanding and identifying cacti, through to developing and implementing a strategic approach to management and control,” she said.

Mr Coupar said staff were monitoring markets, Gumtree and nurseries to inform cactus sellers were not selling a declared pest.

“We are making sure people are aware of the problem by conducting market inspections and asking those selling the pest plants on Gumtree to remove their ads,” he said.

“We want to raise awareness about the problem of cactus, of which there are 27 species that are a declared pest, and ask people not to move plant material around or sell them.”

27 species of Opuntioid cacti, including prickly pear, have been declared a pest.

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