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ELMDON PARK: Plea to keep dogs out of red pond

ELMDON PARK: Plea to keep dogs out of red pond

Image: LDRS

Solihull dog owners are being urged to keep their pets out of a park pond to help avoid the spread of a weed which turned the pool blood-red.

Visitors to Elmdon Park were recently baffled by the alarming colour of the water within the wooded area.

It later emerged that Azolla, an invasive species of water fern, was to blame for the vivid film which had formed on the surface of the pond.

It was revealed last month that thousands of weevils would be released by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, who lease the affected area, to devour the fast-spreading plant.

Now council experts have confirmed the welcome news that the Azolla has not been detected elsewhere.

However  they will continue to keep a close eye on the issue and have offered advice to residents on how they can help.

A spokesman said: “Our ecology team is actively monitoring the situation and working with the the wildlife trust and has found no evidence of the spread of Azolla.

“The ponds will continue to be monitored over the coming months.

“The public can help us avoid Azolla spreading by not allowing dogs in the pond, therefore reducing the risk of Azolla spreading to other areas of the park.”

Last week happened to be Invasive Species Awareness Week – held each year to highlight the problems posed by the spread of non-native flora and fauna.

Indigenous to North America, Azolla was first detected in the UK in the 19th century.

Helen Tedds, secretary of Elmdon Park Support Group, had referenced the local problems in a blog post she had written last month.

“This weed is believed to have entered UK water systems from the ornamental pond and aquarium trade either by spreading via birds’ legs between ponds or from people emptying fish tanks into wild water bodies,” she said.

“It spreads on the surface … blocking out sunlight and decreasing oxygen, thereby killing native wildlife.”

Despite its alarming appearance the plant is harmless to both people and pets.

The tactics being used to tackle the issues in Elmdon – putting the tiny variety of beetle, colloquially known as ‘Weevil Knievel’, into the water – are classed as biocontrol.

This is when a species which feeds on a problem plant or pest is released into the environment to remove it, without the need to resort to chemicals.

Words: David Irwin, Local Democracy Reporter


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