Would you throw marks for your dogs if they ran through or landed in an area thick with spotted water hemlock? If ingested, fresh or dried, Spotted water hemlock is extremely toxic to humans, dogs and livestock. If ingested, death is a frequent outcome. Most human poisoning result from children trying to use the hollow stems as whistles or from adults who mistake the plant for an edible one. Dog poisonings are generally accidental while doing what dogs do, grabbing things with their mouths.
Here's the back story.
There is a state owned dog training area near me with a large patch of spotted water hemlock (Cicuta maculata). The density is around 6-8 stems per meter square. It is in a area popular for training due to the strategic location of bushes and other factors which make for good marks.
I asked the state to spray the plants as I felt it was a hazard for the dogs who might grab a bite of it while picking up the bird or absorb juice from crushed stems through their paws. And also possibly for the throwers if they if they got the juice on their hands and then touched their mouths or bodies. The toxin can also be absorbed through the skin. Keep in mind that most people have never heard of this plant much less know what it looks like.
The state has agreed to spray to control, but not eradicate these plants. None of the dog trainers I have spoken with or that the state has spoken with have ever heard of a dog dying from this plant while working or training. None have even heard of this plant. The state has asked me to provide cases of dogs being poisoned by this plant. They want to respond appropriately but not overreact and cause panic. After conducting a moderate web search I have found three reports of dogs dying. One, a border collie mix in Colorado, another a Cocker Spaniel in the U.K., and a third, an English Springer Spaniel in Salmon Arm British Columbia. All the dogs were hiking with their owners when ingestion occurred.
So, I am putting this out to the larger community to glean your collected wisdom and report back to my helpful state biologist. Has anyone heard of this being a hazard to dogs training or hunting in it?
Do you know of any dogs who have sickened or died from ingesting spotted water hemlock whether training in it or otherwise recreating with their owners?
What would you want the state to do under the circumstances described in the first and second paragraphs above?
Do do you know what this plant looks like and what habitat it favors (wet Meadows, stream and Pond banks)?
Finally, I'll repeat my opening question, would you throw marks from within or to a patch of spotted water hemlock?