Increased threats from invasive species are a high priority for the Service as we adapt our programs to face the challenges posed by an expanding global economy and a continued loss of biodiversity. Climate change will likely exacerbate this problem. Climate change is already compromising the capacity of native organisms to compete with existing invaders and opening up additional pathways of spread.
Executive Order 13112 defines an invasive species as a nonnative species that is likely to cause economic or environmental harm, or harm to human health. Invasive species can be plants, animals, and other organisms (e.g., microbes). Human actions are the primary means of invasive species introductions. Under the Executive Order, the Service works with other agencies and Departments to coordinate national and local-level invasive species management activities and share information and new techniques for fighting invasive species. Prevention, early detection, rapid response, control, management, and restoration are key components of the National Invasive Species Management Plan and other interagency/interdepartmental programs. The need for stronger coordination and cooperation between Federal resource managers and the private sector, particularly in local communities, is essential.
Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Program and Injurious Wildlife
The Service’s Fisheries and Habitat Conservation Program, through its Division of Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Conservation, supports implementation of the Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act of 1990 (as amended by NISA 1996) through its AIS Program. This program provides national leadership in preventing, eradicating, and controlling aquatic invasive species.
The program provides funding to support the Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) Task Force, its six Regional panels, many State AIS Management Plans, and numerous other activities to implement the Act on a national level. It also funds eight Service regional coordinators who work closely with the public and private sectors to develop and implement AIS activities. Many of the Service’s fishery resources offices also provide support for AIS activities. The Service also leads the implementation of “Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!TM” and “HabitattitudeTM,” two highly successful social marketing campaigns designed to unify government and interested parties to speak with one voice and to empower target audiences to become part of the solution by promoting prevention behaviors.
The AIS Program also supports the Injurious Wildlife Provisions of the Lacey Act through an ongoing process of evaluating species and possibly listing them as injurious. Injurious wildlife are species that are injurious or potentially injurious to the interests of human beings, agriculture, horticulture, forestry, wildlife, or wildlife resources of the United States. An injurious wildlife listing prohibits the species from importation and interstate transport without a permit issued by the Service.
Invasive Species Management on National Wildlife Refuges
Invasive species has been identified as one of the greatest threats to National Wildlife Refuges. The National Strategy for Invasive Species Management in the Refuge System guides the implementation of a comprehensive invasive species program under the following mission: Through partnerships, prevent, eliminate, or significantly reduce populations of aquatic and terrestrial invasive species throughout the Refuge System in order to protect, restore and enhance native fish and wildlife species associated with healthy ecosystems. We recently added
Five Invasive Species Strike Teams are positioned in key geographic locations across the country to quickly control new invasive plant infestations on refuges. Being able to prevent invasive species infestations and detect introductions before they become established is more cost-effective than battling an infestation after it has colonized an area and begun to disrupt the natural processes of the native community.
Capacity building for effective invasive plant management on refuges is supported by our hands-on course, Field Techniques for Invasive Plant Management, held annually at NCTC. In addition, a comprehensive online training program is available for refuge staff to learn more about specific IPM methods for invasive plant management, such as biocontrol, mechanical, chemical, fire, and grazing, as well as planning and assessing. It can be found at: <www.fws.gov/invasives/staffTrainingModule>.
Outreach and Education
Refuges coordinate with internal and external partners to conduct management activities. A coalition of organized citizen volunteers adds strength to the invasive species management program through local engagement. An overview of the Invasives and Volunteers program with reports from individual refuges on project accomplishments is available at: <www.refugeassociation.org/New-invasives/vimp.html>. Volunteers are encouraged to visit our online training program for volunteers to learn about managing invasive plants on refuges. The online program for volunteers is an excellent outreach tool designed to provide an introduction to the Refuge System and the impacts of invasive plants. The program is available at: <www.fws.gov/invasives/volunteersTrainingModule>.
Outreach and Education
In order the meet the ever increasing challenges of managing invasive species, outreach and education are critical components. Being able to prevent invasive species infestations altogether or detecting them early, before they become established, is far more cost-effective than battling an infestation after it has invaded and disturbed natural processes on Refuges.
For more information, contact:
NWRS National Invasive, 703/358-2063
Aquatic Nuisance Species, 703/358-1932
Additional Web Links:
National Invasive Species Council
Federal Interagency Committee for the Management of Noxious and Exotic Weeds
Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force
Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! National Public Awareness Campaign
Invasive Species Survey
100th Meridian Initiative