The Department of Agriculture and Food is calling on people in the Kimberley to report the location of any cacti they spot.
Department regional invasive species leader Kay Bailey said cacti could have a serious invasive impact on agriculture, the environment and landscape aesthetics.
“Invasive cacti also pose a risk to animal welfare and human safety,” Ms Bailey said. “Our rangelands are especially vulnerable to cacti invasion, with significant potential for spread.”
The opuntioid cacti became Weeds of National Significance in 2012 and a number of species are declared pests under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007.
Ms Bailey said there were no native Australian cacti.
“It is important to find out what cacti species are present in the Kimberley, where they are and whether they have become naturalised and are spreading,” she said.
“So we need help from the public in locating them. This information will then assist the department and other organisations with management strategies.”
Ms Bailey said the main aim was to prevent the impact of cacti on the productive value of pastoral and other land.
“We had a case in the Goldfields where a discarded garden plant of coral cactus (Cylindropuntia fulgida var. mamillata) spread from the station rubbish dump to cover approximately 66 square kilometres in only ten years,” she said.
Ms Bailey said this highly aggressive and invasive species has been found in gardens in Kununurra and Derby.
“We’d like to see all cacti in the Kimberley reported, as they have the potential to escape from gardens, multiply and spread,” she said.
“What we don’t want to happen is for cactus plants to be disposed of. This will only encourage them to spread.”
Members of the public can report the location of any cactus by phoning 1800 084 881.
Further information on cacti, their impacts, identification and management can be found at weeds.org.au
Media contacts: Jodie Thomson, media liaison +61 (0)8 9368 3937