Dog owners warned after toxic plant and poisonous algae found at Lough Neagh

Dog owners have been warned about the presence of a toxic plant and poisonous algae at the Lough Neagh shoreline in Antrim.

It comes after a dog, which had been in the water, died on Friday 19 May.

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) subsequently tested the water "over a few days to investigate".

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council posted the warning on Facebook, with advice that "dogs are kept on a lead at all times".

The statement said: "NIEA carried out a number of tests over a few days to investigate if there was evidence of an algal bloom in the water.

"No visual evidence of an algal bloom, dead fish or any other signs of water pollution including sewage were analysed by NIEA.

"Further samples were collected along the shore at Rea's Wood on 23 May 2023 and analysis has confirmed the presence of an algae called Microcystic sp. in small amounts washed up on the shore.

"Microcystic sp. is a blue green algae which can produce toxins that are highly poisonous and often fatal to pets.

"In addition, a large amount of the toxic but fairly common plant Hemlock Water Dropwort (Oenanthe crocata) was observed growing in the wooded area along Rea's Wood.

"Hemlock Water Dropwort (poison parsnip) is perhaps the most poisonous indigenous plant in Britain and Ireland.

"It is highly toxic to humans and domesticated animals if ingested - although the roots are more toxic than the above-ground parts.

"Dog owners should always be aware of the dangers posed by all poisonous plants and algae growing in the environment, but especially along riverbanks and in wet grassland or edges of lakes.

"The Council has erected signage warning the public of the presence of blue-green algae and Hemlock Water Dropwort in the area and advising that dogs are kept on a lead at all times."

The NIEA has been contacted for comment.

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