Did you know that February 26 – March 2 is National Invasive Species Awareness Week? If you are like me, you might be thinking, “What is an invasive species?”
An “invasive species” is defined as a species that is:
1) non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration and
2) whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, invasive species can be plants, animals, and other organisms (e.g., microbes). Human actions are the primary means of invasive species introductions.
In 2005 the National Invasive Species Information Center was established to educate the public about the impacts of invasive species and the Federal government’s response to this problem.
What to do to fight the spread of invasive species!
The best way to fight invasive species is to prevent them from occurring in the first place.
The Nature Conservancy has six easy guidelines to help protect native plants and animals.
- Verify that the plants you are buying for your yard or garden are not invasive. Replace invasive plants in your garden with non-invasive alternatives. Ask your local nursery staff for help in identifying invasive plants!
- When boating, clean your boat thoroughly before transporting it to a different body of water.
- Clean your boots and your dogs before you hike in a new area to get rid of hitchhiking weed seeds and pathogens.
- Don’t “pack a pest” when traveling. Fruits and vegetables, plants, insects and animals can carry pests or become invasive themselves. Don’t move firewood (it can harbor forest pests), clean your bags and boots after each hike, and throw out food before you travel from place to place.
- Don’t release aquarium fish and plants, live bait or other exotic animals into the wild. If you plan to own an exotic pet, do your research and plan ahead to make sure you can commit to looking after it.
- Volunteer at your local park, refuge or other wildlife area to help remove invasive species. Help educate others about the threat.
On Invasivespeciesinfo.gov you can learn about the impacts of invasive species and the Federal government’s response, as well as read select species profiles (animals, aquatic species, microbes, and plants) and find links to agencies and organizations dealing with invasive species issues.