I write about invasive plant species all year long, but June is actually Invasive Species Awareness Month in Wisconsin. It’s a time set aside to expand our educational efforts and to make more information available to combat these terrible menaces to our environment — plants and animals.
What is an Invasive Species?
Typically they are non-native species introduced accidentally to our area.* They thrive here in our young country with its fertile lands and substantial water resources. They also thrive because they are generally resistant to the insect pests and diseases found here. Because they have no natural predators, they spread quickly through habitats displacing native insects and plants in our forests, grasslands and wetlands. Ecosystem services are disrupted and plant and wildlife species become threatened or endangered.
According to the Wisconsin DNR, “about 42 percent of the native species on the federal threatened or endangered lists are at risk primarily because of invasive species.” (WDNR)
In Wisconsin we have a law which makes it illegal to possess, transport, transfer or introduce certain invasive species into our state without a permit. There are two primary categories:
- Prohibited — plants which are not yet in the State or present in only a few places, but are likely to arrive and cause environmental and/or economic harm.
- Restricted — plants which are already widespread in the State and have a high impact on ecosystems.
What to do about Invasive Species?
Report invasive species to the WDNR. This link gives you helpful guidelines to follow.
To report a Chapter NR40 regulated species or rule violation, contact Tara Bergeson, Conservation biologist.
To report the sale of invasive plant species, contact Matthew Wallrath or phone 608-266-8916.
Join, support and work with local invasive species organizations, such as one of the Regional Invasive Plants Groups in Wisconsin (CISMAs) hosted by the Invasive Plants Association of Wisconsin (IPAW).
Lastly, do your best to rid invasives from your property. I know this requires a great deal of work, but you’ll find it well worth the effort in the end. Maintaining healthy habitats not only sustains our native wildflowers, insects and animals, it also maintains us as healthy human beings.
*Native plants can be invasive as well when they are planted out of place.
See also Invasive Plants.