I have done a few posts that talked about invasive species, the most recent being Let Pythons Be Bygones. I was curious about what invasive species are the biggest issue in America today. I liked today’s article because it covers aquatic, avian, and terrestrial species. The website is kind of annoying because you have to page through it, but the article does a good job explaining why invasive species are a huge contributor to environmental and economic problems today. The money spent by the government to address the invasive species issue and to try to find a potential solution costs billions of dollars every year. Here are the top ecosystem topplers:
1. Constrictors. i.e. PYTHONS!
– There are nine species of python that pose a medium-high risk to ecosystems. This issue mainly arose from python pet owners releasing their massively mouthed pets after no longer being able to handle them. Moral of the story: Don’t buy a python if you can’t handle it when it reaches 28ft.
2. Asian Carp.
– The carp were brought in by people to act as aquatic sheep. These fish can grow up to 100 lbs and they now account for 90 % of the biomass in the Illinois River. — The picture above is of fishermen Electrofishing! Apparently this practice stuns the fish, but doesn’t give them any permanent damage (although I’m betting these Asian Carp will not be kindly released after capture.) If you are still interested in this fishing technique, here is a short video on electrofishing I found. IT’S SUPER COOL — If Asian Carp invade the Great Lakes, it is pretty much game over for that fragile ecosystem, especially since the Great Lakes already have to deal with the next invader:
3. Zebra Mussels.
– Zebra Mussels are the only accidentally introduced species on the list. The mussels hitch rides in the ballast water of boats, and cause lots of water pipe damage. Although many people may like the perks of crystal clear water, the filtering ability of the mussels prevent once-abundant life from thriving in the darkness of the lakes.
– The mongoose was originally introduced to keep the rat and snake damage on sugar cane fields in check. However, since then, the mongoose has caused the extinction of 12 reptile and amphibian species, as well as 50 million dollars in damage a year.
5. European Starlings.
– America is now overrun by starlings because of none other than the musings of William Shakespeare. In the late 1800s, the U.S. thought it would be a great idea to introduce all of the animals mentioned in Shakespeare’s work to America. It may have been a nice gesture, but today starlings rack up around 800 million dollars in damages for BOTH agriculture and healthcare annually.
Consequently, try not to be annoyed if you ever get questioned by state officials about what items you are bringing into the country. They are just trying to save wildlife and put your tax money to a better use! Additionally, remember that species like Zebra Mussels can cling to the bottom of boats or hide in the ballast water! This makes it very easy for them to spread between lakes or streams if the boat is not properly cleaned. Take care of your boats, and don’t contribute to the invasion!