Schumer Issues Warning About Giant Hogweed

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-New York, is calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to immediately increase federal investment towards the continued efforts to eradicate giant hogweed in New York state while providing technical expertise and resources towards educating residents about the toxic and harmful invasive plant.

Schumer said giant hogweed is an invasive species that presents major health risks such as blistering burns and blindness to people that come in contact with the weed. Schumer said the plant is spreading through Wyoming County and across Western New York.

“Giant Hogweed is a dangerous invasive plant that is spreading here in Wyoming County and throughout Western New York. The feds must direct all available resources to not only stopping the spread of this invasive species in our state, but educating locals as to the human health and environmental risks this invasive plant poses,” Schumer said. “First and foremost, we must slow the spread of Giant Hogweed, and second, we must accelerate the spread of information regarding the public health, environmental and safety risks it creates. New Yorkers need to be aware of how to identify it and where to call it in to so that the correct authorities can eradicate it. This will protect those who work, play, or vacation outdoors, ensure that tourism dollars continue to flow into the region’s economy and protect New York’s pristine outdoor spaces for years to come.”

Schumer specifically called on the United States Department of Agriculture to prioritize its research, monitoring, and eradication activities to give greater emphasis to giant hogweed as soon as possible. Additionally, Schumer urged the USDA to provide sufficient funding and resources to bolster ongoing work with New York state to manage and eradicate giant hogweed. Schumer applauded the work that USDA has done in conjunction with the state Department of Environmental Conservation to help contain the spread of giant hogweed up to this point, but urged the agency to prioritize the allocation of resources and technical expertise to help expand public education and awareness of the myriad risks posed by giant hogweed.

Schumer said giant hogweed has run rampant throughout Upstate New York, and more specifically, throughout Western New York. Schumer said that according to the state DEC, there were only 497 active giant hogweed outbreak sites across New York state after the 2008 field season. Schumer said that according to that same report, after the 2017 field season, the number of active giant hogweed sites had spiked, coming out to a total of 1,753 across New York state. Schumer also said that in Wyoming County, there are a total of 41 outbreak sites with giant hogweed plants including five with more than 1,000 plants. In the neighboring Erie County, there are 196 sites, which equals roughly 10 percent of the 1,349 active sites in the state. Schumer explained that Wyoming and Erie counties are among the hardest hit counties by this invasive weed, with Erie County ranking first in total number of active outbreak sites in the state and fifth in the number of sites with more than 1,000 recorded giant hogweed plants.

Schumer said giant hogweed, formally known as Heracleum mantegazzianum, is native to the Caucasus Mountain Region between the Black and Caspian seas, but has become established in the New England, Mid-Atlantic, and Northwest regions. Schumer added that giant hogweed poses environmental threats to New York by crowding out native species and producing toxic sap.