The B.C. government has proclaimed May 2017 as “Invasive Species Action Month” to help raise awareness of invasive plants and animals in British Columbia and to highlight the environmental and economic damage they can cause.
The proclamation is part of an ongoing effort to encourage people to learn more about how these plants and animals can displace native species and disrupt local ecosystems. The B.C. government, the Invasive Species Council of B.C., regional districts, local governments, First Nations and community-based organizations work together throughout the year to help prevent the introduction and spread of these harmful species.
The Invasive Species Council of B.C. assists with invasive species program co-ordination and communications, develops best management practices (in collaboration with the B.C. government and local agencies), and helps increase public awareness and public reporting of invasive species.
The B.C. government provides ongoing financial assistance to support the work of regional invasive species organizations, including the mapping of invasive populations and the treatment of high-priority sites.
In March 2017, the B.C. government provided another $1.8 million to its annual invasive plant grants program. The money is being distributed to 31 regional districts, municipalities and invasive species organizations to combat the spread of harmful plants.
Over the next three years, the B.C. government is committing over $20 million to invasive plant management. This includes $2.2 million for a three-year pilot project to explore new ways of managing invasive plants in the Thompson-Nicola region. “Protecting Ecosystem Health and Agricultural Values: A Strategy for Crown Land Invasive Plant Management in the Thompson Nicola” will be delivered in partnership with the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association, the Thompson-Nicola Regional District and the Southern Interior Weed Management Committee.
The government has also made significant investments over the past few years to counter the threat of invasive aquatic animals. In March 2017, for example, the government expanded its invasive mussel detection program, which now includes 10 boat inspection stations at B.C.’s borders, extended operating hours for those stations, and 68 auxiliary conservation officers to conduct inspections.
Additional measures include enhanced public education, increased support to monitor lakes for the presence of invasive quagga and zebra mussels, and a dog that has being specially trained to sniff out invasive mussels, bear parts and other contraband.
Total funding for the invasive mussel program is now $4.5 million annually, run in partnership with BC Hydro, Columbia Power, FortisBC and the Columbia Basin Trust.
Activities planned for Invasive Species Action Month:
During the month of May, the Invasive Species Council of B.C. is supporting activities to raise awareness of harmful species, including a contest where people can upload videos about invasive plants and animals for a chance to win prizes.
Each week, the Invasive Species Council of B.C. will provide educational materials about invasive species and highlight how British Columbians can take action against them. To mark Canada’s 150th anniversary, the council is releasing a downloadable character called “Spotter Sandy” that youth in over 150 locations in B.C. can use in projects about preventing the spread of invasive species. More information about these activities will be available on the Invasive Species Council of B.C. website: www.bcinvasivesmonth.com
- Week 1 – Invasive Animals: Don’t Let It Loose! focuses on problems caused by invasive animals, including risks associated with releasing unwanted pets into the wild: http://bcinvasives.ca/commitments/dont-let-it-loose
- Week 2 – Invasive Plants: PlantWise, Grow Me Instead focuses on problems caused by invasive plants and helps gardeners (and people involved in agriculture, ranching and horticulture) prevent the spread of invasive plants in B.C.: http://bcinvasives.ca/commitments/commit-to-be-plantwise
- Week 3 – Outdoor Recreation: Play, Clean, Go focuses on outdoor recreation and provides “Play, Clean, Go” guidelines for removing debris from sports and recreation equipment to prevent the spread of invasive species: http://bcinvasives.ca/resources/programs/play-clean-go/
- Week 4 – Aquatic Activities: The “Clean, Drain and Dry” Program explains why invasive plant and animal species are a concern in B.C.’s freshwater and marine environments: http://bcinvasives.ca/commitments/clean-drain-dry
By working together, British Columbians can help stop the spread of invasive species that can damage the province’s environment, infrastructure and economy.
Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson –
“Invasive Species Action Month is a great opportunity for British Columbians to learn more about the negative impacts of invasive plants and animals. If left unchecked, these species can crowd out native plants and animals, damage sensitive ecosystems and seriously affect infrastructure in the province.”
Minister of Environment Mary Polak –
“I’m proud of the way that communities, local invasive species monitoring groups and our government have worked together over many years to limit the spread of invasive species in B.C. The government will build on that success by continuing to support these crucial programs and mitigating the damage caused by non-native species.”
Minister of State for Rural Economic Development Donna Barnett –
“Invasive species have the potential to cause irreparable harm to British Columbia’s rural economies, so the detection and treatment programs put in place by the government and its community partners are as important now as they’ve ever been. I encourage all British Columbians to learn more about these threats.”
Brian Heise, chair of the Invasive Species Council of British Columbia –
“Invasive Species Action Month is an ideal time for gardeners and outdoors enthusiasts to take action to protect B.C. habitats. Simple steps such as cleaning recreational gear and vehicle tires can help ensure that we don’t move invasive species to new locations. This spring, be ‘PlantWise’ by making sure that seeds and plants stay on your own property, and always be sure to ‘Clean, Drain and Dry’ your boat.”
- Since 2004, the Inter-Ministry Invasive Species Working Group (IMISWG) has provided policy direction, co-ordination and collaborative delivery of provincial invasive species programs for British Columbia.
- The Invasive Plant Program identifies sites where new invasive plant species have been found and responds quickly to contain and eradicate them before they become established and start spreading.
- Currently, some of the targeted invasive plant species in B.C. are flowering rush, Spartina, knotweeds, marsh plume thistle, common tansy, European common reed, garlic mustard, spotted knapweed, Anchusa, orange and yellow (non-native) hawkweeds, giant hogweed, blueweed, tansy ragwort, hoary alyssum, field scabious, leafy spurge, purple loosestrife, yellow flag iris, sulphur cinquefoil and Scotch broom.
- Invasive animal species that are currently a concern in B.C. include: European fire ants; impressive fire ants; American bullfrogs; yellow perch; Norway rats; wild boars; fallow deer; and eastern grey squirrels.
- Members of the public can report sightings of invasive plant species anywhere in B.C. by using the Report-A-Weed or Report Invasives BC smartphone apps, by calling 1 888 WEEDSBC (1 888 933-3722) or by using the online reporting tool: http://www.gov.bc.ca/invasive-species
2017 Invasive Species Action Month proclamation:
Inter-Ministry Invasive Species Working Group:
Invasive Species Council of British Columbia: http://www.bcinvasives.ca
“Clean, Drain, Dry” program: http://bcinvasives.ca/resources/programs/clean-drain-dry