|FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
is an invasive species?
- A. An invasive species
is a non-native species whose introduction does or, is likely, to cause
economic or environmental harm or harm to human health. An invasive
species can be a plant, animal, or any other biologically viable species
that enters an ecosystem beyond its native range.
makes a species non-native?
- A. Native species
refers to those plant or animal species originally living, growing,
or produced in an ecosystem within their historic range.
are invasive species problematic?
- A. Invasive species
are a threat to our health, economy, and environment. Invasive species
cost the U.S. economy over $120 billion dollars annually. This includes
the cost of control, damage to property values, health costs, and other
factors. However, this cost does not consider the ecological damage
caused by invasive species, which is difficult to quantify.
do invasive species damage the environment?
- A. Invasive species
have contributed to the decline of 46 percent of the country’s endangered
and threatened native species. Invasive species consume resources upon
which native species depend, destroy crops and sensitive habitat, and
alter the food chain in an ecosystem by becoming the dominant predator.
Invasive plants crowd out native species or upset an ecosystem to such
an extent that native plants and animals can no longer survive.
do invasive species come from?
- A. The manner in which
an invasive species enters or spreads throughout a non-native ecosystem
is called a pathway or vector. Pathways can be natural or a result of
human activities. Species can travel via weather patterns, tides and
water currents, or within the digestive tract of a migratory animal.
New species are imported for use in aquaculture, aquaria, and gardening.
Other human pathways include shipping materials, ballast water, trucks
and recreational boats, and even the shoes of travelers.
might a species be invasive in one country but not a big problem in its
- A. When a plant or
animal is transported to a new environment, the predators and other
natural enemies that exist in its natural habitat are no longer present.
This gives the species an advantage over other species in the area,
and allows it to flourish in its new land. The species becomes invasive
when its presence becomes harmful to the natural ecosystem processes.
can be done to prevent the introduction and spread of invasives?
- A. Invasive species
management is complex. It requires intervention on a variety of stages:
prevention, early detection, control and management, restoration, and
public education. The Invasive Species Committee, created by the sample
executive order, would create a forum for all state agencies involved
in invasive species regulation to coordinate their management efforts
into one strategic, consolidated effort. The sample Invasive Species
Management Act provides the Department of Natural Resources (or equivalent
agency) with a strong mandate for the establishment of a comprehensive
administrative program that includes strategic planning, educational
programs, and regional coordination. It also provides specific and environmentally
protective statutory criteria for categorizing species.
is wrong with how we currently manage invasive species?
- A. In 1997, 500 scientists
and resource managers wrote to the Vice President: “We are losing the
war against invasive exotic species, and their economic impacts are
soaring. We simply cannot allow this unacceptable degradation of our
Nation’s public and agriculture lands to continue.” The management of
invasive species falls under a myriad of statutes and regulations administered
by a variety of agencies on the international, federal, state, and local
levels. Laws are often passed to address specific crises (such as zebra
mussels) and pathways of introduction of the species (such as ballast
water). Policy studies have found that, as a result, there are often
significant gaps and overlaps in state laws and regulations. An Invasive
Species Council will foster agency cooperation and take a comprehensive
approach to meet the unique challenge of invasive species management.
is the Federal government doing?
- A. In February of
1999, President Clinton signed Executive Order 13112 establishing the
Federal Invasive Species Council. The Council consists of ten federal
agencies whose actions affect invasive species. It serves as a mechanism
to promote information sharing and coordination of management efforts.
Most importantly, the Council was tasked with creating an Invasive Species
Management Plan to establish a comprehensive and coordinated approach
to invasive species management.
are other states doing?
- A. In February 2000,
the National Governors Association listed invasive species management
as a key opportunity for the nation’s governors to work cooperatively.
Soon thereafter, Colorado, Idaho, and Wisconsin governors issued executive
orders establishing invasive species councils and task forces. State
legislators followed suit in Missouri, California, Oregon, and Connecticut,
introducing bills to establish councils, with the Missouri bill following
the exact text of Federal E.O. 13112.
- State legislators also scrambled to create a comprehensive management
approach. Hawaii HB1346 consolidates all state laws and regulations
on invasive species into one act and consolidates regulatory power to
the Board of Agriculture. Legislation in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and
Washington consolidate power within one agency to regulate all aspects
of aquatic invasive species and establish a comprehensive system of
listing and organizing non-native species into regulatory categories.
- See SERC’s
Management” State Activity page for a list of selected
state activities on invasive species.
species management has been a bipartisan effort in all states.
|This package was last updated on June 24, 2003.
|State Environmental Resource Center
106 East Doty Street, Suite 200 §
Madison, Wisconsin 53703
Phone: 608-252-9800 §