Cheshire is a ragwort hotspot

By: Horse Deals

Cheshire is a ragwort hotspot
Cheshire is a ragwort hotspot

A survey carried out by The British Horse Society has identified Cheshire as one of the counties most infested with the deadly weed Ragwort.

Every year animals die painful and unnecessary deaths as a result of damage to their liver from consuming Ragwort. The danger that the plant poses is widely known, yet levels in the UK still continue to rise. This suggests that the laws governing ragwort (Weeds Act 1959, Ragwort Control Act 2003) are not being enforced and the threat that the plant represents is not being taken seriously.

Last year, spurred by concern over the increase in reports, the BHS launched a nationwide survey to draw up a true picture of the extent and location of the weed.  The results showed Cheshire to be one of the most infested counties in England, along with Surrey, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire. Hampshire was the principal offender. In Wales, the worst area was Clwyd, while in Scotland Strathclyde gave cause for the biggest concern. At the other end of the scale, Cleveland, the Scottish Borders and West Glamorgan appeared to be relatively free of ragwort, with very few reports received.

While the results of this survey are important, it’s not enough. By carrying out the survey in the same week annually, the BHS is hoping to gain an insight into trends in ragwort proliferation and to strengthen the argument to control it. This can then be used to encourage better enforcement of ragwort control and lobby for changes in legislation.

Therefore, the BHS is once again appealing to all horse lovers to take time to help complete their "snapshot survey" during BHS Ragwort Awareness Week (11-17 July 2011). If anyone spots ragwort during this period they are asked to spend just a couple of minutes filling in the form available on the BHS website, All respondents will be entered into a prize draw to win one of two Mark Todd Blouson Jackets provided by the Mark Todd Collection. 

Lee Hackett, BHS Head of Welfare, said: "By now, everyone involved with horses should know the danger that ragwort poses. Every year animals die as a result of consuming this deadly plant yet the problem seems to be getting worse.

"Our 2010 survey was a great success and produced some fascinating results that we can use in our lobbying to get some action taken. But we need more data and we are appealing to anyone who cares about equine welfare to become involved in 2011. The survey only takes a couple of minutes to fill out but the information we obtain might just be what we need to effect a substantial change." 


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