CANDOR (WBNG) — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is warning of the dangerous effects of the Giant Hogweed plant and asking for your help in fighting the problem.
The DEC says the plant can grow to be more than 8-feet tall and can be found anywhere from a backyard to the side of the road.
When it comes to its potential danger, it’s the toxic sap you have to be worried about.
“It can cause very bad burns on your skin if it’s exposed to sunlight,” says DEC Employee Robert Slocum.
He says all it takes is a touch of sap to your skin, “it connects to the DNA of your skin, altering it, making you more sensitive to UV rays.”
If it gets in your eyes, the DEC says it can even cause blindness.
Slocum says the DEC has been working on the problem plant for more than a decade.
“Although we are getting new sites every year, we seem to be getting more sites eradicated every year.”
Calling it a public health hazard, the department needs your help.
If you think you see one of the plants, take a picture and contact the Hogweed Hotline at 1-845-256-3111. The DEC will come check it out to confirm it’s the plant and then return to eradicate it.
The DEC fights the plant by digging it up, treating it with herbicide and cutting flowers for disposal.
Slocum says total eradication is a possibility, “that’s the goal of our program.”