U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Invasive Species


Learn More About Invasive Species

What You Can Do



Credit: USFWS

Welcome to the What You Can Do page of the USFWS Invasive Species Web Portal. Invasive species is a global problem and everyone can play a part in preventing the introduction and spread of invasive species. The goal of this section is to provide information for the general public, via USFWS content and links to existing information, on what they can do for invasive species prevention.

There is a lot that the private citizen can do to help in our fight against invasive species. Two of the most important things you can do to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species is to clean your outdoor recreation gear and to not release an unwanted pet or fish into the wild. The following recommendations and links can help one do their part to prevent the spread of invasives.

Prevent the Spread of Invasives Plants

Helping to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive plants is the most effective way of protecting healthy, non-infested ecosystems. Please visit some of the links below to learn about the simple steps you can take to prevent invasion.

Information on Pets and Aquariums

Visit the Habitattitude Web Site for more information on how the pet and aquarium owner can prevent the spread of invasive species.

Aquatic Information

Aquatic recreationsists should always clean their boats and gear before leaving a site. For a comprehensive list of how one can help prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species, please visit the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers/Protect Your Waters Web site. Visit the Protect Your Waters links below to learn more about the prevention methods for specific aquatic activities.

Do you have or are you interested in starting a water garden? Download the Water Gardens and Introduced Species fact sheet developed by the USFWS Northeast Region to learn more about how you can prevent the spread of aquatic weeds and aquatic organisms from your water garden.

Volunteer on a National Wildlife Refuge

Get involved in a community project to remove invasive plants from a local or State park or National Park or Wildlife Refuge. One great way to do this is through the National Wildlife Refuge System, which uses a large network of volunteers to help with invasive plant projects. More information can be found at the Refuges’ Web site Volunteers and Invasive Plants - Learning and Lending a Hand.

Native Plants

Interested in finding out more information about what species are native and invasive in your state or local region? Try consulting your local native plant society. The following two organizations keep a listing of all the native plant societies.

Go to the Plant Native Web Site for lists of native plants, directories of native plant nurseries, and recommended books on native plants.

The Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center is an excellent resource on native plants, including its Native Plant Information Database, which allows you to search for native plant info by plant traits or names, browse through their collection of 17,000 native plant images, and pose your plant question to their resident horticulturalist.

For native plant alternatives for the Mid-Atlantic Area

Risk Assessment and Planning

Are you concerned that the activities of your organization may lead to the spread of invasive species? Visit the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Web Site to learn more about a comprehensive method to identify risks and focus procedures to prevent spread of species through natural resource pathways.

General Recommendations

  • Find out what the most troublesome invasive species are in your local area, avoid spreading them, and try to control them if you have them on your property.
  • The seeds of invasive plants can easily get transported in mud and dirt. Always remember to clean the dirt out of your hiking boots or off of your vehicle before you leave an area.
  • Find out who the local contacts are in your area that can give guidance and identify unknown species.
  • Don’t bring animals, plants and agricultural products (fruits, vegetables, soil) into the country illegally. Fill out customs declaration forms completely and honestly.
  • Learn more. Become more educated and help spread the word about invasive species. Learn more about your local natural areas and the species in your yard. This will help you identify things that are not native and that might be invasive.
  • Whenever possible, use only native plants that are appropriate for your region. Ask your local nursery to start carrying more native plants. Use exotic ornamentals only if you cannot find a native alternative and you are sure the ornamental is non-invasive.
  • Clean construction machines before moving to a new job site. The mud and soil stuck to the machines can harbor seeds from invasive plants.
  • Try to avoid disturbing natural areas whenever possible. Disturbing natural areas can increase their susceptibility to invasion by exotic species.
  • Help out in your community. Join a local native plant organization or native fish or wildlife group.