The provincial government has proclaimed June 9-15, 2014, as “Invasive Species Week” to help raise awareness of the economic and environmental damage that invasive plants and animals can cause if allowed to spread in British Columbia.
British Columbians can get directly involved in halting the introduction and spread of invasive plants by downloading the free “Report-a-Weed” app for iPhones or Android smartphones. The easy-to-use interface allows users to submit reports on invasive plant sightings anywhere in B.C., upload photos of plants they find, and view previously logged sightings: http://www.reportaweedbc.ca/
The B.C. government works closely with the Invasive Species Council of B.C., regional districts, municipalities and community-based organizations throughout British Columbia to help stop the spread of harmful plants and animals. It also provides ongoing financial assistance to invasive species groups to support their work, which includes surveying and mapping invasive species populations and actively treating high-priority sites.
Last month, the B.C. government announced $1.6 million in invasive plants grants for 29 regional districts, municipalities and invasive species organizations. This funding is in addition to the $809,000 already earmarked by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations for invasive plant control and management in 2014-15.
Since 2012, the B.C. government has provided the Invasive Species Council of B.C. with $2.1 million to help prevent aquatic invasive species from entering B.C. and to support public awareness campaigns and preventative measures, such as the “Clean, Drain, Dry” program for recreational boaters.
In conjunction with national and international partners, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations is researching methods to develop new biological control agents to control invasive plant species.
Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson -
“During Invasive Species Week, I encourage British Columbians to learn more about these damaging plants and animals and actions that anyone can take to limit their spread. I encourage citizens to use the Report-A-Weed app, and I encourage boat owners to ensure they 'clean, drain and dry' their boats before launching in B.C.’s lakes and rivers.”
Barry Gibbs, chair of the Invasive Species Council of British Columbia -
“Invasive Species Week is an important time to encourage people, communities and businesses to take responsible actions to reduce the spread of invasive species. The provincial government’s support of regional weed committees, the Invasive Species Council of B.C. and other groups is critical to help ensure co-ordinated and effective responses to reduce environmental and economic losses caused by these invasive species — from knapweed to zebra mussels and from nutria to European fire ants.”
- In 2012, the provincial government amended the controlled alien species regulation to further restrict non-native species. For example, invasive zebra or quagga mussels (alive or dead) are not allowed to remain on boats or related equipment. Failure to clean mussels off boats or equipment could result in a fine of up to $100,000.
- The Invasive Plant Program identifies sites where new invasive plant species have been found and responds rapidly to contain and eradicate them before they become established and start spreading.
- Invasive species of concern in B.C. include European fire ants, bullfrogs, eastern grey squirrels, garlic mustard, yellow perch, flowering rush, nutria, knotweed, New Zealand mud snail and marsh plume thistle.
- Other targeted invasive plant species include orange and yellow (non-native) hawkweeds, knapweed, giant hogweed, blueweed, common tansy, tansy ragwort, hoary alyssum, field scabious, leafy spurge, purple loosestrife, yellow flag iris, Himalayan balsam and Scotch broom.
Inter-Ministry Invasive Species Working Group: http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hra/invasive-species/index.htm
Invasive Species Council of British Columbia: http://www.bcinvasives.ca
Invasive Alien Plant Program: http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hra/plants/index.htm
Factsheet on invasive zebra and quagga mussels: http://ow.ly/xy6R2
Download the Report-a-Weed app: http://www.reportaweedbc.ca/
Clean, Drain and Dry program: http://www.bcinvasives.ca/special-events/clean-drain-dry
Public Affairs Officer
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations