March 6, 2023


How to Deal With Invasive Species

By: Kelvey Vander Hart

Lionfish. Burmese python. Wild boar. Common tumbleweed. What do these all have in common? They are invasive species. Invasive species, no matter how pretty or cool they might be, do some serious damage to whatever ecosystem they usurp. Invasive species management is a hot button environmental issue these days. So, for the free-marketeer, here are a few ways the private sector can help mitigate the impact of these unwelcome creatures and plants: 

Planting native plants 

Michigan Technical University said it well: “Homeowners play a critical role in the fight against invasive plant species, which spread aggressively and harm the environment, economy, and sometimes human health.” But homeowners are not the only ones who can exercise their green thumb to repel invasive species. 

Invasive plants can cause just as much environmental chaos as invasive animals, but planting native plants can help create some resistance. How? The National Park Service puts it simply: “Native plants need less water, provide habitat for other native species and help reduce the spread of invasive species.” Planting native plants takes up land that could otherwise be used by invasive plants while creating hospitable habitat for more native species. Sounds like a win-win!

Avoid putting animals in the wild 

It doesn’t matter how much you may dislike taking care of your pet. Releasing it into the wild is never a good idea. Fish may be the greatest example of the released pet problem, and the state of Washington offers a great case study as it is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight off the invasion of a seemingly harmless animal: goldfish. 

Pet owners may think that releasing goldfish into the wild is harmless, but they are really contributing to the spread of the world’s most invasive species. Goldfish may seem small and harmless in your fish tank. But in the wild, they can grow to be the size of a football and feast on anything in their way. 

Just don’t do it. If you can no longer take care of your pet, find a reputable shelter or rehome it yourself. Releasing it into the wild is never the right option. 

Check your shoes 

If you spend time traveling through different areas of nature, there’s a chance invasive species may be hitching a free ride on your shoes and equipment. Cleaning your shoes after traveling is always an easy means of prevention. Want to be extra sure you’re not helping invasive species move from place to place? Plan on spraying down vehicle tires, boats, and trailers that you take with you. 

Support your sportsmen

Finally, support your local hunters and anglers as a means of reducing the numbers of invasive animals. I understand that the thought of killing animals simply because they are not native to the area may bother you, and I understand—I’m a vegetarian, and any animal death troubles me. But just look at an example like the Burmese python infestation in Florida—is it worth letting animal species go unchecked if they wipe out native animals and ecosystems? The logical answer is no, and hunting and fishing are good responses. 

Invasive species are certainly wreaking havoc on American ecosystems. But, through private sector action, we can start a return to the species status quo.