Non-Native, Invasive and Nuisance Species Management

As this country has grown, native plant and animal communities have been adversely impacted by both development, and purposeful and accidental introduction of non-native species. In recognition of the need to address this loss of diversity, each State has established an Invasive Species Council responsible for creating State Invasive Species Management Plan. As a component of an Urban Conservation Treaty program, projects that address non-native, invasive and nuisance species can be a vital part of the state effort to restore biological diversity.

Non-native species are those plant or animal species that were not present at the time of European settlement. Because of very aggressive growth habits many non-native species become invasive and out-compete the native plants. So not only are the native plants at risk, the native wildlife species that depend on native plants, are as well. This can be manifested as direct loss of food, or loss of habitat as the non-native species out-compete natives. Thus, the focus on restoration of locally native plant communities that provide food, roosting, or nesting habitat for birds.

Invasive plants, are those species with very aggressive growth habits. Most are non-native species, however, be careful, some native species can also become invasive. Aggressive growth by a particular species can result in the loss of diversity within a local plant community. The number of different plant species in the community declines, followed by the decline in the number of migratory bird or other animal species. These degraded plant communities often provide habitat instead for non-native or possibly nuisance birds.

The nuisance designation is one of human perception, therefore any species, even a native species, could become a nuisance. Generally used to refer to animals, a species is a "nuisance" as a result of the animal's population density - large numbers and associated negative human-wildlife interactions. Familiar "nuisance" animal species include free-roaming dogs, cats, and raccoons, all of which can pose a threat to migratory populations. The densities of resident Canada geese, starlings, house sparrows, and pigeons frequently reach nuisance levels in urban areas.

Examples of non-native, and invasive species management include:

  • Targeted removal of non-native and invasive species from municipal lands.
  • Revise city landscaping practices to eliminate the use of non-native and invasive species.
  • Educate the public about what is a native species versus, ornamental and non-native.
  • Develop a list of nurseries that sell native plants and "bird friendly" plants that provide shelter and food, and encourage additional nurseries to stock and sell these plants. Examples of nuisance species management include:
  • Re-vegetate areas to lessen their attractiveness to nuisance animal species such as resident populations of Canada geese.
  • Control feral dog and cat populations through policy and public education.
  • Conduct public education campaigns to reduce the feeding of geese, pigeons, rock doves, starlings and English sparrows.