Aussie Town Battling Insane 'Hairy Panic' Tumbleweed

Wangaratta residents blame a negligent farmer
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2016 9:32 AM CST

Roof-high swarms of tumbleweed are attacking a town in Australia and "it's not funny anymore," a resident tells the BBC. For some time, residents of Wangaratta in rural Victoria have been forced to spend hours a day digging out homes and cars buried beneath a fast-growing tumbleweed called panicum effusum or "hairy panic," so named for the long hairs on the edges of its leaves. Locals say the weed, benefiting from extremely dry conditions, has taken over a neglected farm nearby and is now spreading. One woman tells 7 News she spent eight hours cleaning out her backyard only to return to a waist-high tangle the next day.

The weeds don't pose a fire hazard and likely aren't harmful to animals once dried, but the clean-up is "physically draining and mentally more draining," a local says. "It makes it difficult to get the car out in the morning—if you can find it," a man adds, per Australia's ABC News. But he admits "it's a first-world problem" and he's trying to look on the bright side. "We are looking at ways to capitalize on this stuff, whether we go into the production of scarecrows or raise some money and get some goats in to eat this stuff away," he quips. Officials held an emergency meeting on the issue on Thursday and are considering sending street sweepers to assist residents. (Americans faced similar trouble in 2014.)

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