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What Can Bird Watchers Do to Fight Invasive Species?

Invasive species can spread easily by hitching a ride on birdwatchers’ gear, and are unintentionally transported to new locations.

Invasive species can spread easily by hitching a ride on birdwatchers’ gear, and are unintentionally transported to new locations.

For a bird watcher like me, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of spotting a rare or elusive bird—or watching any of our feathered friends in their natural habitats.  Whether you are a die-hard enthusiast or just take pleasure in seeing birds outside your window, you have a deep appreciation for the outdoors and wildlife.

But did you know that our farmlands, forests and wildlife are being threatened by invasive species?  Invasive insect and plant species can be found in any community, including your own.  These pests damage natural ecosystems, reduce biological diversity and alter wildlife intensity and frequency.  They can spread easily by hitching a ride on materials and people, who unknowingly transport them to new locations.

But there are some basic steps you can take to keep invasive species from spreading:

  1. Learn to recognize invasive plants so you can avoid passing through them and accidentally spreading their seeds.
  2. Change the water in bird baths often to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
  3. Clean equipment, boots and gear between trips—or better yet before leaving an infested area if possible.  Make sure to remove all seeds and other plant parts.
  4. Report any suspected invasive species to your county extension agent or the local APHIS office (click on “Report a Pest or Disease” link at www.aphis.usda.gov).

If you follow these simple suggestions, you’ll be protecting our natural ecosystems, wildlife and your favorite hobby.  Please join the fight against invasive species today.

For more information on invasive pests, visit our website.

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