Optunoid cacti now declared pest in WA

Sixteen species of Optunoid cacti were ‘declared’ as pest species in Western Australia last month.

Removing cacti species in the Shire of East Pilbara (©Linda Anderson)

Removing cacti species in the Shire of East Pilbara (©Linda Anderson)

In order to protect WA agriculture, the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia regulates harmful plants under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007, and ‘declared pests’ are prevented entry into the State or have control or keeping requirements within the State.

The Pilbara Corridors Project continues to maintain a watch on cacti in the region, working with the Pilbara Mesquite Management Committee (PMMC) and the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) to monitor and control them.

Pilbara Corridors Program Manager Ian Cotton said the new ‘declared’ pest label for the sixteen species meant there was now a regulatory backing to control the pest species.

“Under the Act, land owners and occupiers must report the presence of the pest, and undertake control measures to destroy, prevent or eradicate it,” Mr Cotton said.

“The supply or advertising supply of this pest into WA is also prohibited,” he said.

Mr Cotton said land manager and community members had already been very supportive in identifying and locating cactus which were declared as ‘Weeds of National Significance’ (WoNS).

“Integral is educating the community so they are aware of the threat of invasive cacti in the Pilbara,” Mr Cotton said.

“It’s vital that the first sighting of these kinds of weeds are reported and acted upon as once they spread, the problem can become much worse,” he said.

Opuntioid cacti (Opuntia species, Cylindropuntia species and Austrocylindropuntia species except C. californica) are on the list. Their common names include cane cactus, coral cactus, devil’s rope, pencil cactus, jumping cholla, Hudson pear, Prickly pear and wheel cactus.

As part of a wider strategic approach to threats to biodiversity, the Pilbara Corridors project is embarking on a Conservation Action Plan for the Pilbara Bioregion. Through a series of three workshops with stakeholders in March, April and June, the workshops will identify priority assets and threats to biodiversity, including weeds to guide future management action.