- Associated Press - Thursday, September 7, 2017

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Montana’s Department of Agriculture is asking ranchers who received donated hay after a large fire or ongoing drought to keep an eye out for noxious weeds.

Dave Burch, the agency’s weed program manager, urges ranchers to watch for new weed species, document them and follow up with weed control.

Burch says county weed coordinators, extension services and conservation districts can help ranchers identify invasive species and develop a management plan.

He also suggests storing the hay in one spot and feeding the hay close to that spot to limit any potential weed infestations to a smaller location.

Hay donations came from both inside and outside the state after a July fire that burned 421 square miles (1,090 square kilometers) in central Montana. The U.S. Drought Monitor classifies two-thirds of the state as experiencing severe, extreme or exceptional drought conditions.

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