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Man furious after witnessing destructive land management practice alongside road: 'How is this not illegal?'

"This is evil for a lot of reasons."

"This is evil for a lot of reasons."

Photo Credit: TikTok

In a video posted on TikTok, Samuel Thayer (@wellfedwild) shows viewers what appears to be miles and miles of rural roadside vegetation sprayed with herbicide. Instead of preserving and protecting native plant species, it seems the state of Wisconsin took a harmful shortcut.  

The TikToker says herbicide was sprayed instead of the roadside brush being managed by mowing. This kind of herbicide use is harmful to native plant species that provide food and habitat to native wildlife and can have catastrophic effects on wildlife, as it decreases biodiversity and creates grassy monoculture, as Samuel notes.


Unnecessary use of herbicide to destroy wildlife habitat and pollute wetlands.

♬ original sound - Samuel Thayer

While it is unclear exactly who sprayed the herbicide, Wisconsin's Department of Transportation says that it manages more than 150,000 acres along the state's roads. In the video, Samuel says he is on Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources land.

Samuel also specifies why spraying herbicides is so harmful, especially the fact that the rural roadsides shown are a state wildlife area and are at the edge of wetlands. This means the herbicides are likely leaching into those wetland habitats. 

"When you add up this management plan … all across North America, this becomes a reduction of wildlife habitat [of many square miles]," Samuel warns. He estimates tens of thousands of square miles if this were done across North America, illustrating how much something like this can add up, though there is no data to suggest the problem — while serious and common — is quite that widespread.

Samuel is not the first to bring up the hazards of using herbicides and pesticides to control roadside vegetation. In fact, some states, including Maine, North Carolina, and Oregon, have created "no-spray agreements" that residents can establish with utility companies to reduce the use of harmful chemicals, per Beyond Pesticides. 

Despite these agreements, spraying roadside vegetation with herbicides and pesticides has been common practice by DOTs across North America, according to the U.S. DOT Federal Highway Administration.

The good news is that you can do your part to support native species in your community by planting pollinator-friendly plants and natural lawns. There are numerous ways to increase biodiversity and habitats for wildlife, from swapping your grass lawn for clover to planting wildflowers and creating a tapestry lawn.

Commenters on Samuel's TikTok video were outraged by the herbicide treatment on native plants and wetlands.

"How is this not illegal??" commented one user.

"Oh my God. This is evil for a lot of reasons, but I especially can't believe they overlooked the fact that they sprayed into wetlands/water supply," added another user.

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