The City of Lethbridge is working to mitigate foxtail Barley, which can be dangerous to pets. The barbed seed heads from the plant can get lodged in the skin, mouth, nose and eyes of pets. If a dog digests them, they can cause serious illness or even death, according to the city.
Hiroshi Okubo, parks operations manager for the City of Lethbridge, says the city has gotten about a dozen calls to 311 this year expressing concerns about the naturally occurring grass. He says the city mows and sprays to mitigate foxtails and adds this year is similar to last in terms of the amount of it, but the city is better prepared.
“We did do a lot of proactive stuff from last fall to now,” Okubo says. “Last year we didn’t have staff, so we were really short handed — so the parks suffered, the medians suffered, the shrubeds suffered. This year we have got staffing.”
Foxtail poses a challenge to workers because Okubo says it lays down when mowing and can be missed. Spraying is also problematic because the chemicals will kill all greenery, and not just the problem plant.
“Everybody wants to eradicate it but I don’t think we’ll ever get to that point. It just comes natural here and it just grows,” Okubo says.
He suggest residents keep their dogs out of areas with a lot of foxtail and keep them on a leash. “Being a dog owner, I am really careful about where I take my dogs,” he says. “When on our walks, I pull weeds, I pull foxtail and stuff like that — so I try to help as much as I can and our staff actually are doing a fantastic job this year.”
Foxtail is most common on the outskirts of the city and in new development areas, specifically on the westside, according to Okubo. He adds this month, due to the rain early and the summer and the heat that followed, he suspects foxtail will be more of a problem.