Evan Knows | Thriving Neighbourhoods Solutions to Foxtail Mitigation

Ward 12 has seen pet owners devastated by the impacts of a recently deregulated weed called Foxtail Barley that is spreading rapidly in our southeast communities. Those who are the most impacted have had to pay local vets thousands of dollars for surgery with no guarantee that their beloved pup will recover.

As your City Councillor, I will work alongside The City, local developers, and community groups to address this important issue that is impacting the livability of Ward 12 residents. Short term strategies to head off the propagation of this plant before it goes to seed need to be a joint effort between all stakeholders.

Ultimately, Foxtail needs to be put back on the list of Provincially regulated weeds by bringing forward the appropriate information and impact studies through the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry ([email protected]) or a Notice of Motion needs to be brought forward through City Council for The City to regulate it locally and address the negative impacts this plant is having on so many Calgarians.


Foxtail barley (Hordeum jubatum) is a showy, short-lived, native perennial cool season bunchgrass. It is common to non-cropland areas in Alberta. It has a shallow root system and reproduces through seeds and lateral shoots. A mature plant grows from one to three feet tall. Generally, it thrives well in areas where water accumulates (seasonal water holding ditches), wet meadows and near streams). Foxtail barley is often found to be growing alongside grasses and weedy forbs adapted to wet and/or alkaline/saline environments. Infestation can develop quickly in saline soils due to poor competition from other plants. 


Foxtail barley has a shallow, fibrous root system that makes it easy to control through tillage. The best opportunity for control is when the plant is young and around the fall season, but success depends on rainfall after tillage, which may stimulate the regrowth of foxtail barley. VP 480/Glyphosate can effectively control it at an early growth stage, if properly timed. As Foxtail barley is not listed on Alberta list of legislated weeds, Calgary Parks doesn’t employ pesticides treatment to control it. 


Foxtail Barley is not poisonous but can injure pets (dogs in particular) through physical contact by causing nasty blisters once the brown seeds/awns get stuck to the body parts and in extreme cases may also cause blockages and infections internally when they are swallowed or enter the nasal passage.

Precautions Recommended for Dog Owners

Avoid contact with mature plants. The stiff, sharp awns of foxtail act like slivers, creating a hazard for dogs. If dog owners observe infestation along their regular dog walk routes/off leach sites, it can be easily controlled by pulling the plants at immature (green) stage. If large infestations are observed in fallow land, please contact the land owners to request remediation.

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News stories from 2021:

Global News Story (July 14, 2021)


News stories from 2020:

CBC Article (August 27, 2020) https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/calgary-vets-foxtail-barley-danny-joffe-shane-keating-1.5703064

CTV News Article (August 25, 2020) https://calgary.ctvnews.ca/warning-for-calgary-dog-owners-be-wary-around-foxtail-grass-1.5079400