The wildlife staff for the Environmental Resource Management Department works hard to ensure the preservation of wildlife and natural resources for the community and future generations.
As Florida residents, we are all too familiar with the impact that invasive species have on our economy and environment. A University of Florida study reveals that 137 non-native reptile and amphibian species have been introduced to Florida between 1863 and 2010. The state of Florida is now home to the largest number of invasive plant and animal species in the world! However, we are not alone in the war against invasives. Areas all across the United States share a unique battle with their own contenders in a struggle that, in only recent years, has been recognized as a serious problem.
National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW) looks to highlight the importance of raising awareness and finding solutions to this growing issue on a national level. According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, more than 400 threatened and endangered species are at risk at least partly because of invasive species. The Weed Science Society of America found that the damage done by invasive plants alone costs the U.S. an estimated $34.7 billion a year. NISAW, scheduled February 21 – 27, is marked by a plethora of national, state, and local events that promote awareness of these issues. Some of these free events include: invasive plant species workshops, webinars, conferences, work days, and the Race Against Invasives 5k Fun Run.
So what defines invasive and non-native species? Invasive species are those whose introduction is likely to cause great environmental, economical, or human health impacts. This can include plants, animals, and pathogens. Historically, humans have done a wonderful job of introducing invasive species unintentionally. Some of our common Florida fauna though, arrived here on their own accord which is referred to as a natural range expansion. Until the species has a significant impact, they are referred to as a non-native species.