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Dog walkers warned of deadly hemlock risk at Long Meadow in Barton after flooding




WARNING signs were re-erected at a popular dog walking site in Barton after recent flooding disturbed potentially lethal water hemlock dropwort.

The toxic plant – the UK’s most poisonous – previously resulted in the death of one dog and made another two ill after being ingested at Long Meadow in August 2019.

Speaking at a recent town council amenities meeting, committee chairman Cllr Geoff Blunden announced heavy rain in late May caused some flooding to nearby residents’ gardens and outbuildings.

Warnings about hemlock were previously put up at Long Meadow after incidents involving dogs in August 2019 (47821873)
Warnings about hemlock were previously put up at Long Meadow after incidents involving dogs in August 2019 (47821873)

“The Environment Agency were due to do their cut of the banks in May – the week before this happened – but they had some operational issues,” he said.

“It’s been done now, but the knock-on effect from the flooding – and sometimes from the cutting – is that it can disturb water hemlock.

“So we have put out signs warning dog walkers. If we spot any hemlock we remove it as quick as we can.”

Town clerk Graham Flexman pointed out council workers cleared two lorry-loads of cuttings left behind by the Environment Agency, which included Hemlock.

As reported in the A&T, Cllr Blunden said the town council was doing everything it could to warn dog walkers of the danger posed by the toxic plant.

Warnings about hemlock were previously put up at Long Meadow after incidents involving dogs in August 2019 (47821871)
Warnings about hemlock were previously put up at Long Meadow after incidents involving dogs in August 2019 (47821871)

This came after devastated Barton resident Janice Dennison had to have 11-year-old shelpie Kelsie put to sleep in December 2019 after her health drastically deteriorated four months on from first falling seriously ill.

The A&T also reported how Sally Keats’ dog Oakley nearly died after chomping on a hemlock root he had found on the ground during a walk at the site. Her friend Pam Smith’s pet Pickle also fell ill but had not ingested as much as Oakley.

Responding to Cllr Alan O’Sullivan’s question as to whether a bend could be put in the river to divert some of its flow from homes, Cllr Blunden said such a scheme was raised several years ago.

This involved the Environment Agency proposing to alter the flow of Becton Bunny and create a meander.

The town council had supported the scheme at the time, but it was dropped after being rejected by Barton residents at consultation.



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