Oregon passes resolution against foxtail barley

Kelly J. Kaczala

        Oregon City Council on Monday approved a resolution requesting the director of agriculture add foxtail barley to the noxious or invasive weeds list.
        The surrounding areas have seen an unprecedented increase in foxtail barley, which is creating a health risk to residents and pets throughout the area.
        Perrysburg has been making headlines recently regarding foxtail barley. Residents living near an Eckel Junction Road farm field have been complaining that seeds from the weed are causing their pets to become ill after some of it blows onto their properties. The city also requested that the director of agriculture add foxtail barley to the noxious or invasive weeds list.
        Oregon Councilman Paul Drake attended a city council meeting in Perrysburg recently where there was discussion about the weed. Drake told Oregon Council on Monday that there is foxtail barley off Norden and Bury roads in Oregon and expressed concerns about the health and safety of Oregon residents living near the weed. He introduced the resolution at Monday’s council meeting.
        “I got a few phone calls about two to three weeks ago from people who live mainly on Norden Road to tell me about this weed I had never heard of,” said Drake. “I did some research on it. There’s a lot about it online. I went out to their houses where they gave me samples of it. I went to Perrysburg’s council meeting last Tuesday just to get some feedback. They had some dogs that inhaled some of it in their lungs. One guy spent about $4,000 after taking his dog to Columbus to get little barbs out of its throat.”
        He got a call from a homeowner on Bury Road who initially thought seeds from the weed that blew onto his property were from cottonwood trees, said Drake. The homeowner breathed in some of the seeds and later had problems breathing.
        “So it can affect humans,” he said.
        Bury Road, he added, is the worst area in the city with the highest concentration of the weed.
        Councilwoman Kathleen Pollauf said there is a lot of foxtail barley at Norden and Corduroy roads.
        “It blows into my yard all the time,” she said. Thank God I don’t have a dog. Dogs will eat it for roughage. They eat the grass because it’s sweetened by barley.”
        She asked Drake if he received any calls from pet owners who had pets who got sick from the weed.
        He said hasn’t had any calls about pets getting sick or dying. Just one of the calls he received from a resident who had problems breathing, which concerned him.
        “I think it’s new to a lot of people. There might be people who have animals who might have it, but people are not aware of it. It’s a serious thing. It’s actually a pretty weed when it blows in the wind, but it’s nasty.
        He said someone gave him samples of the weed in a plastic bag so he could see it.
        “I ended up throwing it away. The barbs were starting to come out of the bag. It can go through your skin and travel in your blood,” said Drake.
        “My guess is, it’s all over the city. My hope is it will be declared a noxious weed for the entire state. The director of agriculture is getting letters from all over the state. I know there are different regions that do inspections. The resolution is to just let the director of agriculture know this is going on. I don’t want anyone getting sick or dying from it. I’m not a huge animal lover. But I wouldn’t wish this on any animal. That’s my hope of passing this resolution,” said Drake. “I’m just trying to prevent something before this happens.”
        If the director of agriculture declares foxtail barley a noxious weed, the city would have the authority to clean it up if the property owner does not address it, according to Mayor Mike Seferian.
        “If someone filed a complaint, the city would have an obligation to notify the property owner they were in violation. They would have so much time to clean it up. If they didn’t, the city then could go in to clean it up, and assess the property owner. We would be the police agency, just like any other ordinance, if someone filed a complaint,” said Seferian.


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