Fisheries Resources
Pacific Region
 


February 26 - March 3, 2012

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Did you hear? February 26th - March 3rd is National Invasive Species Awareness Week! Throughout the country we face an ongoing invasion of harmful non-native animals, plants, pathogens and other organisms but YOU can help. There are countless ways by which non-native species are accidentally or intentionally introduced into the environment. Pet and aquarium releases are an important pathway that is sometimes overlooked.   Some of those fish, plants, snails, etc. that may look great in an aquarium can wreak havoc when they escape or are released into our natural environment. So, whether you’re a teacher, a pet store owner, or an aquarium enthusiast, be thinking about how you can prevent invasive species introductions and help us spread the word about National Invasive Species Awareness week!

Can I get involved in my own state?

Learn more about how to be active in your state in the Pacific Region!

Do I play a part in the spread of invasive species?

Many people do not know they too can play a role in the spread of invasive species. Releasing pets into the wild is a major cause of invasive species introduction. Read the below example:

Plants and Pythons
Why releasing pets and aquaria just doesn’t make sense
All is not well in Southern Florida. A growing population of invasive Burmese pythons in Everglades National Park has been linked to people releasing unwanted pet snakes into the wild. But it isn’t just 20-foot long snakes in Florida that are tipping the balance in our natural ecosystems. Throughout the country, aquarium owners are unintentionally causing new invasions when they empty unwanted fish tanks into local ponds, streams, lakes, and bays. Plants, fish and other animals raised in aquaria are hardier than we think. In fact, they were bred to be hardy. Aquaria species such as hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata), “killer algae” (Caulerpa taxifolia), and Oriental weather loaches (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus), are examples of species that could thrive in the Pacific Region. Once established outside their native range, released or escaped aquaria species can devastate the environment by outcompeting native species and spreading disease. It is crucial that pet and aquarium owners be responsible in their choice of pets and when necessary, dispose of them properly.

Burmese Python, Credit: Mariluna (commons.wikimedia.org)
Due to the Burmese python's threat to native wildlife, some of which are threatened and endangered, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalized a rule in early 2012 that bans the snakes importation and interstate transportation.So while Florida has instituted strict legal action to curb the threat of Burmese pythons, other invasive species still require attention.

What can I do to help prevent the spread of invasive species?

Know before you buy:

  • Research the needs of your pet to ensure you have ample space and resources for its entire life expectancy.

Unable to care for your pet any longer? Don't let it loose. Here are some great alternatives to releasing your pet into the wild:

  • Adopt your pet out to a hobbyist club in your area
  • Consult with local pet stores to return your pet for resale or trade
  • Give it to another hobbyist, an aquarium in a professional office, a museum, or to a public aquarium or zoological park.
  • Donate it to a public institution, such as a school, nursing home, hospital, or prison.
  • Consult with a veterinarian to discuss humane euthanasia options.

 

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, in baseball cap, and Senator Bill Nelson, in white shirt, with wildlife officials, display a Burmese python while announcing the ban on import and transport of four exotic snakes, January 17, 2012 (Photo courtesy DOI)
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, in baseball cap, and Senator Bill Nelson, in white shirt, with wildlife officials, display a Burmese python while announcing the ban on import and transport of four exotic snakes, January 17, 2012 (Photo courtesy DOI)

Check out these additional resources:
Habitattitude Campaign
Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council

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Last updated: January 27, 2014

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