Ag & Enviro Weekly Focus

Noxious and Prohibited Noxious Weeds Found Around the Crowsnest Pass

If you have any questions about the noxious and prohibited noxious weeds listed below and how to remove them, please contact the Agriculture and Environmental Services Department at 403-562-8600.

For weed and pest control, soil conservation and any agricultural or environmental concerns within the Municipality, please submit a form at: 

Aquatic Invasives

As the weather begins to warm up and the snow begins to melt, it is easy to get excited about summer. One important thing to remember this year is to clean your watercraft and fishing waders! This will help stop the spread of both invasive seeds and invasive aquatics.

The Crowsnest Pass is at the head of the Oldman Watershed; the Crowsnest River joins the Oldman River, then Saskatchewan River before making its way out to Hudson Bay. The control efforts we put in place here will affect everyone downstream of us as well. It is important to clean and inspect all watercraft including kayaks, paddleboards, trailers, and gear. Ensure all mud and plants have been cleaned off equipment by scrubbing, rinsing, or pressure washing and ensure you are away from storm drains, ditches, and waterways while cleaning. It is best practice to dry your gear out before using it in another waterbody.

In Alberta, moss balls have been sold in pet and gardens stores but unfortunately have been found to have zebra mussels in them. If you have purchased a moss ball since January 1, 2021, please dispose of it following provincial guidelines.

Alberta's Rat Program

Alberta has been rat free since 1950 when the Rat Program was introduced. This means we have no resident population of rats. The Norway rat is not able to survive in natural areas nor in winter, so it needs to live in human structures to survive. Norway rats were introduced to the east coast of Canada in 1775 and spread westward. Rats entered Saskatchewan in the 1920s and could extend their range about 24 km each year. Alberta put a quick stop to this range extension by putting the Rat Program in place. If you suspect a Norway rat or any member of the genus Rattus, please report it to your Agriculture and Environmental department or call 310-FARM.

Mountain Pine Beetle

Mountain Pine Beetle is a bark beetle species that is native to North America although is spreading beyond its native range as it attacks and kills mature trees. These beetles bore through the bark and mine the soft layer between the bark and wood of the tree leaving behind horizontal galleries and introducing blue-stain fungi.

The beetles lay eggs that hatch into larvae. The larvae consume the soft layer called phloem. With the combination of blue-stain fungi and consumption of phloem, pine trees can die within one month. The Mountain Pine Beetle is the most aggressive and destructive bark beetle in Western Canada. It is about 5 mm in size, black to dark brown, and cylindrically shaped with a hard exoskeleton. It attacks a wide range of pine trees including western white, limber, jacks, ponderosa, and Alberta’s provincial tree - lodgepole pine. If you believe you have an infected tree on your property, please report and contact the Agriculture and Environmental Department.

Wild Boars

Wild Boars are ‘at large’ when not being raised as livestock. Wild boars have made their way onto the provincially regulated pest list as an invasive species because it is one of the most damaging invasive species causing damage to property, agricultural crops, pastures, and are vectors for disease that endanger people, livestock, and wildlife.

Wild boars were introduced into Alberta in the 1980-90s as livestock. Some escaped their enclosures and now thrive as feral species. Wild boar not only destroy agricultural crops, but also prey on newborn cattle, poultry, and goats. The threat of disease transfer to livestock, humans and wildlife is serious and could cause a huge economic loss for Alberta’s agriculture industry. Wild boars are carriers of hand-foot-and-mouth disease, which would cause immediate shut down of Alberta’s pork and beef exports costing $65 billion dollars nationwide.

A bounty was offered in Alberta if a pair of ears were turned in although hunting is no longer deemed an effective control option and may have exacerbated the issue. Wild boars are quick learners and pass this information on to their offspring. There are no reported sightings in the Crowsnest Pass or even southern Alberta, however, it is important to raise awareness so everyone knows the signs.

Signs to watch out for is rooting in meadows or pastures, droppings, crop damage, wallowing.  The tracks are large, rounder than deer tracks. Wild boars are square shaped with drooping bellies, their shoulders stand above their rears and legs are thick to their feet.  We are asking for everyone’s help! Report any observations or sightings throughout the province by calling 310-FARM or by contacting the Agriculture and Environmental Department.

Ground Squirrels

Columbian Ground Squirrels are the most common ground squirrel species you will find here in the Crowsnest Pass. These squirrels can be found in eastern British Columbia and Western Alberta and some northwestern states. It is the second largest member of the genus Urocitellus (Ground Squirrels). You can identify these ground squirrels by their reddish-tan fur on the face, chest, legs, and underbelly with white around the eyes and a reddish- black tail. These guys prefer living in alpine meadows, dry grasslands, bushy areas, and ballparks! They have a gestation period of 24 days, weigh about 470 g or 1 lbs, and hibernates approximately 7-8 months of the year.

So why has this squirrel found themselves on the nuisance list in Alberta? Columbian Ground Squirrels damage garden plants, building foundations, and fences, and create tripping hazards from their burrows. Ground squirrels carry fleas, ticks, and mites which carry diseases harmful to humans and other animals such as Lyme disease, encephalitis, and rocky mountain spotted fever, and can serve as reservoirs for sylvatic (bubonic) plague in areas that are infected. Please note these transmissions are very rare but remains important to report large infestations or ground squirrels burrowing close to homes and buildings.

Canada's Agriculture Day

Agriculture day started in 2016 to celebrate farming and food and to learn more about where our food comes from. Agriculture is key for economic growth and recovery in Alberta, it is the backbone for the province. Alberta agriculture has been happening for over a century and includes cattle, chickens, bees, pigs, sheep, bison, wheat, barley, potatoes, canola and so much more! 

Agriculture employs 75,000 Albertans and contributes billions of dollars to our GDP. Alberta’s agriculture has a well-earned reputation for food safety systems, high-quality agricultural products, safe farming practices, and techniques that help reduce disturbance on ecosystems, wildlife, and the land.

Albertan farmers export wheat to nearly 70 countries around the world and Alberta beef is world famous being graded as AA or higher! Albertan beef producers set the standard for ethically raised beef.

Canada’s Agriculture Day is a great opportunity to show our appreciation for producers and those that work in the agriculture and food processing sector. You can share what agriculture means to you by going to social media and post photos of working farmers, prairie landscapes, all-Canadian cooked meals, post a ‘Fork-up’ selfie and tag it with #CdnAgDay ! Fun fact: As of 2019, Alberta is home to 41% of Canada’s cows and 40% of honeybee colonies!

Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA)

Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) also known as swamp fever, is a disease that affects horses and other members of the equine family.  EIA is caused by a retrovirus that is transmitted by bloodsucking and biting insects such as horseflies and deer flies. This endemic virus is found in the Americas, parts of Europe, South Africa, Russia, and the Middle and Far East and can be transmitted through blood, milk, and the placenta. A loss of coordination is often the only noticeable symptom, though general weakness, jaundice, weight loss, and swelling of the extremities are other signs.

As of December 6, 2021, there were 87 cases in Alberta located in 10 different counties. Infected animals remain carriers of the virus for life putting other animals at risk. EIA is a federally reportable disease, so if you suspect your horses may have EIA, you must notify the CFIA and contact your local veterinarian as soon as possible. Please note, there is no human health risk with EIA.

Play Clean Go

Play Clean Go is one of the most effective ways to prevent invasive species from spreading to new natural areas. You can apply these actions throughout the entire year, even in winter! It may not be growing season, but some plants are still able to spread seeds in the winter. All you have to do is check your gear, equipment, and animals for mud and plants before leaving the recreational site.

If you follow these simple steps, you are helping to stop invasive species in their tracks!

REMOVE plants and mud from animals, boots, gear, and vehicles.
CLEAN your gear before entering or leaving the site.
STAY on designated trails and roads.
USE certified or local firewood and hay.

Whether you are a fisherman, camper, mountain biker, backpacker, or off-highway vehicle operator, you all have a risk of spreading unwanted seeds. Unwanted seeds and pests can easily spread through water, mud, wind, vehicles, and clothing so it is important to make sure you aren’t taking anything with you when you leave!

June 5-11 is Play Clean Go awareness week. Check out their webpage for dozens of free materials to help you show outdoor enthusiasts how to stop spreading invasive species and pests.

What is the Problem with Invasive Plants?

Invasive plants can spread rapidly and outcompete native vegetation. Some plants were brought here intentionally as an ornamental or brought in for cultivation, others made their way here by hitching a ride on vehicles, boots, animals, machinery, and the wind. Disturbed areas are a perfect place for invasive weeds, but they can also find their way into riparian areas, pastures, and grasslands outcompeting native vegetation for sunlight, water, and soil nutrients.

Alberta has 75 regulated weeds, none of which are native to Canada. With no natural predators, these weeds become prolific seed spreaders. Invasive plants reduce wildlife habitat, decrease biodiversity, and increase soil erosion and fire risk. These invasive plants won’t go away on their own, so we use a variety of different control methods to keep these species in-check. These control methods include manual hand pulling, applying herbicides, mowing, and bio control.


EDD MapS is used for EDRR (Early Detection Rapid Response) and mapping invasive species. This is a documenting, web-based mapping system for invasive pests and plant species. Fast and easy to use, this app has local and national distribution maps, a library of identification and management information, and a verifier checks all reports. You mark your location using a pin or a polygon and upload photos of the specimen.

You can submit findings and observations through interactive queries into the database where you can maintain your personal records. Once verified, your submitted data is available to researchers, scientists, educators, conservationists, farmers, ecologists, foresters, agricultural fieldmen, and parks. You can create a profile through the app or upload your files on the computer. For more information EDDMaps, please visit or contact the Agriculture and Environmental Department.

Detecting Foot-and-Mouth Disease in Cattle

Early detection of Foot-and-Mouth Disease in cattle is vital in preventing the spread and avoiding major economic consequences for the cattle industry. In Canada, many animal diseases are absent. However, they are present in other countries and continue to threaten Canada’s beef and dairy production. If you notice your cattle have depression/ fever/ anorexia with excessive saliva, vesicles, or painful lameness, call your veterinarian right away.
For more information on enhancing emergency management in the livestock and poultry industry, please visit Animal Health Emergency Management (AHEM) Project – Animal Health Emergency Management (AHEM) project at The Animal Health Emergency Project (AHEM) website offers training and workshops and has some great resources about biosecurity and animal disease information. The Agriculture and Environmental Department currently has extra copies of the AHEM Producer Workbook and Producer Summary pamphlet, contact us today to pick up your copy!

What is the Pest Control Act?

The Pest Control Act refers to any plant, animal, insect, bird, or disease that can destroy or harm livestock, land, or property in Alberta. This allows the Minister’s authority to declare them as pests. Big game, game birds, endangered animals, and birds of prey are not included in the Pest Control Act to ensure no conflict with the Wildlife Act. There are two categories that the Pest Act refers to: Pest Species and Nuisance Species. 

Some Pest Species include grasshoppers, bacterial ring rot, rabies, Dutch elm disease, and any rat species or strains derived from genus Rattus. Wild boars are also considered to be pests in areas where they are at-large in Alberta.

Nuisance species include coyotes, house mouse, skunks, and Columbian ground squirrels. A horse can be declared as a nuisance in Alberta if it is at large within the seven wildlife management units. To see a full list of these wildlife management units, please refer to the Wildlife Regulation.

Alberta has had the Rat Program since 1950 and has rat-free status meaning there is no resident population within the province. If you see a rat, note location, and safely take a picture and send the information to 310-FARM or contact the Agriculture and Environmental Department. 

What is the Soil Conservation Act?

The Soil Conservation Act was developed to help fight against soil erosion by encouraging sound soil conservation practices, preserve Alberta’s agricultural land resources and ensure productivity in the farming sector long-term. 

In the 1930’s, ‘black blizzards’ were created from high velocity winds, for this reason, this era became known as the ‘dirty thirties'. These dust storms affected the American and Canadian prairies by blowing away much of the topsoil damaging the agriculture, ecology, and economy. In south-eastern Alberta, more than 10,000 farmsteads were abandoned. This wind erosion initiated the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act and The Control of Soil Drifting Act in 1935, which was replaced by The Soil Conservation Act in 1962. Many of the soil conservation practices and procedures such as grass cover, extending crop rotations, shelterbelts, and construction of dams and dugouts are still used today. 

To learn more about the Soil Conservation Act please call the Agricultural and Environmental Department or visit the link below

Manual (