Some of the hay donations from across the country that have provided much-needed relief to central and Eastern Montana ranchers affected by the Lodgepole Complex fire and severe drought have been contaminated with noxious and invasive weeds.
The Montana Natural Resources Conservation Service, Montana Department of Agriculture, Montana Invasive Species Council, conservation districts and others are coordinating outreach and working with hay recipients to identify unknown plants, insects, and diseases to prevent their spread.
“Invasive species threaten hay productivity and quality, as well as economic value and livestock health,” said Monica Pokorny, NRCS plant materials specialist. “Local, state and federal agencies are working with landowners to detect invasive species and develop monitoring plans to keep watch on potential new infestations.”
Invasive species include non-native pests and plants introduced outside of their natural habitats. In this new environment, free from their natural predators, they have an advantage that allows them to out-compete native plants and agricultural crops for space, moisture and nutrients.