Invasive species a thorny issue for North Okanagan ranchers

VERNON – With its bright purple flower it doesn’t look like a serious threat but the Scotch thistle is causing real problems for some ranchers in the North Okanagan.

The invasive species has spread in the region and is choking out native plants and taking over grazing land.

Rancher Brad Chapman says he started seeing the weeds around two and a half years ago.

“It’s so aggressive that you can’t have the cattle come in and graze again,” says Chapman.

The Regional District of the North Okanagan has an integrated pest management program to combat the plants.

Weed control officer John Friesen says the thistle has spread within the region.

“I don’t think we will ever knock it out but we are hoping to keep it sort of confined,” says Friesen.

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Chapman says the Scotch thistle problem on his ranch is only getting worse.