Ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

RMEF Gets Nasty on Noxious Weeds

We recently received this question at Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation headquarters:

What is RMEF doing about getting rid of ox-eyed daisies and thistles in the wild? These plants are very aggressive, displace native forage, and elk do will eat them. They are ruining habitat and are being sprayed aggressively by US Forest Service. Does RMEF have any programs to support the spraying?
Steve Fogler

Here is a response from RMEF Director of Science and Planning Tom Toman:

RMEF has been actively engaged in noxious weed control since 1989 when we provided funds toward the control of spotted knapweed and yellow starthistle on the W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area in the state of Washington. We have provided grants for 888 projects that had an element of noxious weed control and spent $7,236,873 dollars. Other partners in these projects contributed more than $37 million. 

Ox-eye Daisy
We encourage our partners to use integrated weed management strategies which would include herbicide, biological controls (insects, viruses and bacteria), mechanical manipulation (pulling, tilling, mowing, etc.) and any developing techniques that may be on the horizon. You mention oxeye daisy and thistles and both have been targeted whenever they are discovered. 

Yellow Starthistle
Oxeye is becoming more prevalent as many folks think they are pretty and are unaware of the ecological ramifications. It is fairly easy to treat with herbicides but treatment must be followed up for years as the seeds remain viable in the soil for a long time.

Yellow starthistle was introduced into California in 1869 and we have been fighting that one in California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho for the past 30 years or more. It was found in Dillon, Montana, about five years ago and they are trying to get on top of it before it spreads. 

Spotted Knapweed
Spotted knapweed is probably the most prevalent noxious weed in the west and research we have funded has shown that it has the most aggressive growth rate of all the weeds of up to 28 percent per year.

Leafy Spurge
Leafy spurge is one of the most difficult weeds to treat since it has a taproot that can grow to a length of 25-30 feet. Trying to get herbicides throughout a plant with a root system like that makes it very difficult. In many cases, biological controls are much more effective. 

As you can see we have been actively funding noxious weed control along with the other habitat enhancement treatment types to make elk country a better place.  

RMEF funds weed control via horseback in the Elkhorn Mountains of Montana

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