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Source: Environment Canterbury Regional Council

An ‘invasion’ of the exotic plant pig’s ear is causing angst in Akaroa residents, and a public meeting has been called to address it.

Pig’s ear has been a prolific invader from the coastal cliffs and rocky outcrops around Akaroa and the bays, with a farmer saying it has been slowly encroaching on his farm for about 20 years.

The succulent can grow up to a metre in height. Its flowers are bell-shaped and can be orange, red or pink, and its seeds are dispersed by wind, stock and gravity. Pig’s ear is toxic to sheep if ingested and displaces native vegetation.

Meeting details

When: Wednesday 27 September, 4-6pm

Where: Pigeon Bay Hall, Wharf Rd

RSVP: No need to RSVP, just attend for as long as you like.

Don’t be fooled by appearances

Sheep farmer Hamish Menzies said the pig’s ear on his farm didn’t start out as a pest, but it has been a growing problem for some time.

“The trouble with pig’s ear is it grows in inaccessible places, like cliff faces and steep slopes. This makes it particularly hard to see the effects on livestock, as they can just disappear up there.

“It makes control difficult as well, because it can hide on those slopes quite well. Plus, you have to check all those slopes and cliff faces yourself,” Mr Menzies said.

How the meeting came about

After a recent Biosecurity Advisory Group meeting where Mr. Menzies spoke about the problem, a decision was made to host a public meeting about the plant.

“What we want from the community meeting is to get landowners and councils to realise there is a problem and that it can be controlled. We’re raising awareness, but we also want to get landowners out there to control this stuff,” Mr Menzies said.

“A number of individual landowners are doing control work, but it needs a more coordinated approach to be effective,” he said.

We facilitate the meeting, from which farmers hope awareness will be raised; and a community-led response targeting the plant is established.

Aerial surveying

In addition to this, we are undertaking an aerial survey of the peninsula and pig’s ear is one the species slated to be surveyed, principal biosecurity advisor Laurence Smith said.

“We’re looking around November-December time to be executing the aerial survey, and pig’s ear is certainly one of those we want to get a gauge on its spread across the peninsula.

“This will inform our work programme for these species, and we look forward to partnering with the community and community groups to get that work going,” he said.

“In the meantime, though, we do want to hear from anyone who has sighted pig’s ear. They can let us know through the pest search tool or by ringing our advisory services team on 0800 324 636,” Laurence said.