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UK's most dangerous plant found in area where number of dogs died

Dominic Smithers

Published 
| Last updated 

UK's most dangerous plant found in area where number of dogs died

A plant described as the most poisonous in the UK has been found at the site where several dogs have died.

Hemlock Water Dropwort was spotted close to where a dog died after it was taken for a walk near Lough Neagh in County Antrim earlier this month.

The incredibly poisonous plant is often found in damp meadows and near streams, and can grow up to five-feet high during the summer months.

The poisonous algae was found near Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland. Credit: Harvey Wood/Alamy
The poisonous algae was found near Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland. Credit: Harvey Wood/Alamy
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However, an investigation carried out by the local council reported that there appears to be 'no evidence' that the dogs' deaths were linked to the water.

“A water quality inspector visited the area following the report to investigate if there was evidence of an algal bloom in the water," said a spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).

“No visual evidence of an algal bloom, dead fish or any other signs of water pollution, including sewage, were detected.

“During a site inspection on May 23, a large amount of toxic but fairly common Hemlock Water Dropwort was also observed growing in the wooded area along Rea’s Wood.

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“Hemlock Water Dropwort is perhaps the most poisonous indigenous plant.

“This is a native plant, not an invasive species, and it grows mostly in wet meadows along river courses and lakes.

“It is highly toxic to humans and domesticated animals if ingested. The roots are more toxic than the above-ground parts.

“The results have been shared with Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, which has erected signage warning the public of the presence of blue-green algae and Hemlock Water Dropwort in the area.

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Hemlock Water Dropwort is highly toxic. Credit: Keith Burdett/Alamy
Hemlock Water Dropwort is highly toxic. Credit: Keith Burdett/Alamy

“Dog owners should be aware of the dangers posed by all poisonous plants and algae growing in the environment, but especially along riverbanks and in wet grassland or the edges of lakes.”

Levels of another dangerous substance were also recorded in the same area.

Microcystis is an algae that has been known to kill birds in the past and is lethal to livestock.

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“As a precautionary measure, a water sample was taken for algal analyses,” the NIEA added.

“No blue-green algae was found in the sample.

"Further samples were collected at Rea’s wood, and analysis confirmed the presence of an algae called Microcystis, in small amounts.

“Microcystis is a blue-green algae which can produce toxins that are highly poisonous and often fatal to pets.”

Featured Image Credit: David Chapman/Alamy Stock Photo/Matthew Richardson/Stockimo/Alamy

Topics: UK News, Animals, Dogs, Science

Dominic Smithers
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