Thursday, August 7, 2014

Invasive Species

Pet rats are banned in Alberta. Some species of snake are banned as pets in other places.

Preventing the spread of invasive species didn't used to be a human concern (in fact, humanity may be the most successful invasive species of all time, having spread across the globe and absorbed all closely related species). But now we appreciate biodiversity.

But it can have its challenges. Take wildlife corridors - leaving strips of land through developments to allow local wildlife to disperse. Sometimes they do that. Sometimes, though, they disperse invasive species even more effectively - this was found in Florida with a certain kind of fire ant.

In California, this week is Invasive Species Week - a campaign designed to educate people on what they can do about it.

In the Midwest the Asian carp has become a huge problem, and behavior deterrents are in place at many locks - loud music or electrical shocks to keep the fish from passing the barrier. Ships that travel certain routes have to be cleaned to prevent the spread of shellfish.

And feral hogs are a problem in Florida and Ohio...at least.

So, what can people do?

First of all, don't let exotic pets escape. If you keep snakes, consider choosing species that can't survive long in the wild where you live.

Avoid planting non-native garden plants that are inclined to spread - choose native ground cover when possible. If you weed out invasive species, don't compost the flower heads, but bag them and label them for landfill - talk to your local jurisdiction about the rules on this.

Oh, and if you burn firewood, buy it as locally as possible.

(Amusingly, the list of animals that will eat invasive weeds is long, separated by weed type - and "goats" are on every list. I love goats).