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Leafy spurge: A Kissinger for the '90's?
by Bob Hartzler

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1997 - William Safire, columnist for the New York Times, recently wrote an article concerning leafy spurge that appeared in the August 1 Des Moines Register. The article provides a brief history of the long-running feuds between cattle ranchers and sheepherders in the western United States, and the role that leafy spurge has played in bringing these two battling groups together

Leafy spurge has infested over 3 million rangeland acres in the West, making the land useless for cattle since they refuse to eat the plant. Sheep and goats have been used to control spurge due to their less finicky tastes in plants. One land management official described that turning loose 240 goats on 2000 acres of leafy spurge infested land was like inviting the high school football team to a pizza parlor, "they just demolished it".

Anyways, Safire stated that the shared interest in defeating a fearsome enemy (leafy spurge) has brought together the cattlemen and sheepherders. He stated that what the world needs more of is the fear of common enemies, whether drought, pollution or tyrannous ideologies. This fear can bring together groups that previously may have used their energy to fight each other.

Prepared by Bob Hartzler, extension weed management specialist, Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University

For more information contact:
ISU Extension Agronomy
2104 Agronomy Hall
Ames, Iowa 50011-1010
Voice: (515) 294-1923
Fax: (515) 294-9985
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