With spring in full swing, Clarence Valley residents are being urged to report the prohibited sale or trade of prickly pear cacti as part of a state-wide campaign to eradicate the species.
Barbed bristles and sharp spines on these plants detach easily and can cause serious injury to people. They can also injure, cause infection in, blind and even kill native animals, pets, working dogs and livestock.
Once in the environment, prickly pears can form impenetrable walls of vegetation and cost millions of dollars to control.
Despite on-the-spot fines of $1,000 and penalties of up to $220,000, illegal trading of prickly pear variations including Eve’s needle, bunny ears, smooth tree pear and blind cactus is still happening in NSW.
In response, NSW Crime Stoppers, local councils, Local Land Services and the NSW Department of Primary Industries have joined forces in a state-wide campaign to stamp out the problem.
Clarence Valley Councils Senior Natural Resource Management Officer Tony Sullivan said prickly pears dumped in backyards or reserves could spread rapidly. Seeds are also spread by birds that eat the fruit of plants growing in garden beds and pots.
“Spring usually brings an increase in plant sales, so we’re appealing to the public to be on the lookout for these cacti in markets and online,” Mr Sullivan said.
If you see any one of the 27 prickly pear species known to be circulating in Australia, contact our Biosecurity Weeds Officer on 02 6643 0200, or call Crime Stoppers on 18000 333 000.
If you find a prickly pear in your own garden, carefully dig it out and place it in your red bin for deep burial.
More information is available on the NSW Department of Primary Industries website. https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/biosecurity/weeds
You can also report the sale of prickly pear online at https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au/home/