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Lionfish and Tiger Mosquitoes and Boars, Oh My!

Isabella Pham

Posted on September 13, 2020 19:57

3 users

Just like Dorothy Gale, they're a long way from home. What's the deal with all of these invasive species?

Chances are, you've probably heard the term "invasive species." But what kinds of creatures actually fall under this category? Well, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), any "exotic species whose introduction into an ecosystem in which the species is not native causes or is likely to cause environmental or economic harm or harm to human health" can be classified as such. This includes plants, animals, and even tiny microbes that are invisible to the naked eye.

Now, you might be wondering: how do foreign organisms actually get into the United States? The FWS explains that many of them are unintentionally introduced via cargo ships or other pathways. For example, spotted lanternflies, which continue to pose a huge threat to Pennsylvania agriculture, were most likely transported here from Southeast Asia through a series of wood product shipments. On the other hand, some invasive species, like Burmese pythons, were actually brought to America on purpose for specific reasons, such as the pet trade. These massive snakes escaped captivity or were released into the wild by owners who couldn't take care of them and ended up becoming an absolute menace to Florida's local flora and fauna.

Extensive FWS research has shown that invasive species are nothing to sneeze at. In fact, out of the 50,000 non-native species that currently reside in the United States, approximately 4,300 of them are considered invasive. This may seem like an intimidating number; it may seem like it's out of your control. However, there are many small steps that you can take.

Here's a list of ways that you can help out:

Learn more about the invasive species in your area. You can do this by accessing online databases, or by contacting your State Department of Natural Resources and your State FWS Office.

If you're able to identify an invasive species, please report it to the aforementioned organizations. Even if they can't completely eradicate the species, any information that you can give them will be useful.

Participate in invasive species hunting competitions. This option might not be for everyone, but for those who prefer a more hands-on approach, it can be both entertaining and effective. Some of the most viable invasive species to hunt are the titular lionfish and wild boars (also known as feral hogs or feral swine), Asian carp, European starlings, and more.

Don't make it worse. If you or someone you know is the owner of an exotic pet that's getting too hard to deal with, try to find someone else to look after it, instead of letting it go and letting it wreak havoc on local ecosystems.

Spread the word. If you can raise awareness of this issue, then it'll be much easier to handle. 

Even though the yellow brick road to a better future will ultimately be arduous and long, any and every effort that we make to help our local ecosystems will be worth it in the end.

Isabella Pham

Posted on September 13, 2020 19:57

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Invasive species pose a major threat to the ecosystem health and economic vitality of the entire Tahoe Basin.        ...

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