Invasive Species News and Research, January 2020

Invasive species news from across North America. This month includes promising early findings on Ambrosia beetle research, Montana preparing for feral swine, the Florida Python Challenge and more.

Every month, new species are introduced to our lands and waters, new studies are published, and new methods of control are tested—with impacts varying across the map. It would be nearly impossible to stay on top of every piece of invasive species news.

However, the staff and board of the North American Invasive Species Management Association review headlines each month. This helps us stay on top of trends and further our mission to support, promote, and empower invasive species prevention and management in North America. We then share invasive species news most relevant for people who manage terrestrial and aquatic invasive species across the the United States, Canada and occasionally the world.

So, what happened this month?


Success Stories: Prevention, Eradication and Restoration

3,700 invasive crabs seized by federal authorities in Cincinnati

Ohio – Read on

Chinese mitten crabs ‘pose a serious threat to humans and the environment,’ agency says.

North American Invasive Species Awareness Week will drive invasive species news this spring.

Further reading: Learn how National Invasive Species Awareness Week is raising awareness about how national and local policy—such as those that authorized wildlife inspectors and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) officers who kept the Chinese mitten crabs from entering the United States—can protect North America’s most invaluable landscapes.


Prevention, Outreach and Education

Benzie Conservation Receives $126,700 to Educate Boaters on Invasive Species

Invasive species managers in Michigan were granted major funds from the state to fight invasive species.
McKenzi Waliczek is helping raise public awareness of invasive species. Photo from Metromode – Second Wave Media

Northern Michigan – Read or watch on 9&10 News

The state recently awarded $3.6 million to 32 organizations across the state to help fight invasive species.

Further Reading: “State grants engage public in fight against invasive species”

Bait Shop Initiative aquatic invasive species program is growing

Wisconsin – Watch or read on FOX 11 News

“We have a lot of people that come from out of state that have no idea what VHS is, have no idea what invasive weeds, milfoil. They have no idea what that stuff is,” said Wenzel.

That stuff is the focus of a program called the Bait Shop Initiative. The Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance distributes literature and brochures to area stores.

Super Bowl-inspired snake hunters capture 80 pythons in Everglades competition

Florida – Read or watch on the Miami Herald

Hunters in the special Super Bowl edition of the annual Florida Python Challenge captured 80 exotic snakes during the 10-day competition that attracted more than 750 people from 20 states. By tapping the hype surrounding the country’s biggest sports event, wildlife managers wanted to send a message to the world: pythons are decimating native wildlife in the Everglades and the state is doing everything it can to control them.

Biologists recommend urgent action to protect California spotted owls

California – Read on

Populations of invasive species typically remain at low densities for several generations before growing rapidly. Because intervening to control a potentially damaging invasive species requires many resources, land managers often wait for strong evidence that a species will pose a threat before taking action.


New Research

Scientists bolt down the defenses against ambrosia beetles

United States – Read on

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists may have found a way to turn the tables on the beetles.


Don’t miss next month’s invasive species news. Sign up for the Early Detector, our free monthly newsletter for invasive species managers.


Detection, Management and Control

Conservation dogs often make invasive species news headlines.
Johnson gives Solo a water break during the search. Photo by Alexander Deedy.

Sniffing Out Invasive Species

Hawai’i – Read on Earth Island Journal

Johnson started training detection dogs in 2008 after discovering that her golden retriever, Luka, preferred nose work to swimming or chasing balls. It was at Hanalei that Johnson was struck by the passion of conservationists doing their best to safeguard Hawai’i, despite daunting tasks and limited budgets. She wanted to continue to use dogs to help.

Further reading: “Wisconsin dog trained to sniff out invasive species”

Beetle traps identify 100s of species new to Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island – Read on CBC News

A federal government project has identified close to 300 species of beetle not identified on Prince Edward Island before, and maybe a couple that are entirely new to science.

Montana Prepares for Feral Swine

Montana – Read on Q2 News

Feral swine have yet to be spotted in Montana, but pigs are encroaching from Canada and have been seen as close as five miles on the Saskatchewan side of the border.

Profiting from Asian Carp? UT economist proposes plan for invasive species

Tennessee – Read or watch on WVLT8

According to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, the Asian Carp species that invaded the Mississippi River has moved aggressively into the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers.


Policy and Rulemaking

Biologist provides framework for national invasive species policy, implementation

United States – Read on

“These papers finally show how the United States can fashion a strong, efficient system to defend the nation against this scourge—a long overdue step.”



Increased tick numbers could drive native species further north.
Photo by Ivars Krutainis on Unsplash

Native or invasive species? The distinction blurs as the world warms.

North America – Read on PBS or Yale E360

With thousands of species on the move as the climate changes, a growing number of scientists say that the dichotomy between native and alien species has become an outdated concept and that efforts must be made to help migrating species adapt to their new habitats.

Dinner Plate Invasion

North America – Read or listen on Gastropod

Across America, feral pigs are on the rampage, wrecking fields of crops, hunting local wildlife to extinction, and even attacking humans. In the United Kingdom, Japanese knotweed is taking over the landscape: banks deny mortgages to infested properties, and the government regulates its disposal with the same precautions it takes for low-level nuclear waste. Humans are to blame—we introduced invasive species such as these to their new homes. But some conservation biologists and chefs think humans can also be the solution: by eating the invaders. Are we ready for a menu of Asian shore crab and bullfrogs—and can our appetite really make a difference, or might the approach lead to unforeseen consequences?

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