Noxious weeds crowd out desirable forage for cattle, sheep, goats, horses, or other livestock. Some noxious weeds, such as yellow starthistle, also have spines that can injure livestock. Several are also toxic to livestock if eaten, many even retaining their toxicity when dried and baled in hay.
Reduced Fishing Opportunities
Noxious weeds can reduce fishing opportunities for anglers as they can make habitats less hospitable for fish and can reduce the oxygen level in the water, which can suffocate fish.
Can Be Toxic to Humans
Some Noxious Weeds are toxic to humans! Contact with giant hogweed's sap, which is on top of the quarantine list this year, can leave painful, third-degree burns.
If you think you have ingested toxic plants, call 911, please go to the emergency room, or contact the Washington Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.
Limit Wildlife Habitat and Reduce Wildlife Viewing and Hunting
Noxious weeds take over native plant communities and change the habitat upon which wildlife depend for food and shelter. The lack of forage forces them to search elsewhere for food and affects hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities.
Destructive to our Trails and Roads
Noxious weeds negatively impact trail riding opportunities. Likit Himalayan Rock Salt Lick Brick (2kg) (Multicoloured) both blocks trails and can cause injury due to its sharp thorns. Puncturevine's sharp-spined seeds can rip right through tires, stick to shoes, pierce the paws of dogs, and really hurt when touched, making it a serious nuisance for bicyclists, hikers, dogs, and other park visitors.
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Degrade Wetland Habitat
Many aquatic and wetland noxious weeds degrade aquatic habitat. For example, parrotfeather forms dense mats that choke streams and ponds, reduce water flow and oxygen levels in the water, and displace native aquatic plant communities, which had provided valuable habitat for fish, amphibians, invertebrates, and other wildlife.
Displace Native Species and Reduce Biodiversity
Many noxious weeds such as knapweeds, leafy spurge, and Scotch thistle can convert rangeland and grassland, which contain a rich array of native grasses and wildflowers, into monocultures that are less palatable for grazing animals.
Many noxious weeds and other invasive plants such as cheatgrass produce more dry biomass than the native plants they displace, creating a serious fire hazard. Noxious weeds like Scotch broom and Dalmatian toadflax are often among the first species to emerge following these devastating wildfires.
Reduce Property Values
Many noxious weeds can significantly reduce property values. Once noxious weeds monopolize rangeland and farmland, it can be very expensive to control the plants and restore the land back to a functional condition.
Harm Important Riparian Habitat That Salmon Depend On
Fast-growing invasive plants can transform riverbanks by restricting access to water, increasing soil erosion, displacing native vegetation, reducing available sunlight, and altering the nutrient cycle. The degradation of habitat caused by noxious weeds pose a serious threat to our native plants as well as salmon and other wildlife.
Damage Infrastructure and Harbor Rats in Urban Areas
Noxious weeds cost farmers, ranchers, and orchardists millions of dollars in control efforts and lost crop production, which can contribute to higher prices of food for all of us.
Reduce Visibility and Access on Roads
Noxious weeds on roadsides are more than just an eyesore! They also reduce visibility and utility right-of-way access. Additionally, noxious weeds on roadways aid to facilitate the movement of noxious weeds to other parts of our state and even to other states.
Interfere with Commercial Timberland Reforestation
The majority of forested land in Washington is commercial timberland and some noxious weeds interfere with the reforestation process. For example, it was estimated in 2014 that Scotch broom alone cost Oregon $44.8 million in reduced timber production per year.
A Burden to Boaters and Swimmers
Submerged and floating-leaved aquatic noxious weeds can form dense mats that limit swimming areas and can even pose a drowning hazard. They also block waterways for boaters and paddlers, clog boat propellers, and plant fragments infest new water bodies by clinging to boats, trailers, and equipment.