Thursday, April 8, 2010

Week of April 5, 2010

Unwanted, unloved, and living in New York

If it slithers, stings, eats, or just grows, the state wants invasive species gone

By BRIAN NEARING, Staff writer
Times Union

ALBANY, NY -- The state is compiling a hit list of invasive plants, animals and insects -- from exotic invaders like a voracious Chinese fish to ornamental shrubs available at the local nursery.

A report by the state Invasive Species Council recommends the creation of a ranking system to judge the danger presented by a particular species, and a complementary set of state fines against anyone possessing the most risky specimens.

The proposed system would be New York's first comprehensive approach to prohibiting or regulating commerce in invasive plants and animals to slow or reverse their spread, said Steve Sanford, chief of the Office of Invasive Species at the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Based on regulations already in place in such states as Minnesota, Wisconsin, Connecticut and Massachusetts, the proposal -- required under 2007 state law -- is aimed at discouraging commerce in invasive species, he said.

"We are looking at trade as a pathway, and we want to constrict this pathway and ultimately shut it down, where people are purposefully introducing plants and animals in the pet, nursery stock and live food trades," Sanford said.

"There are real costs to society for invasive species," he said. "Unlike other forms of pollution, these do not diminish over time. They reproduce themselves and get larger and larger." [...]

The proposal would also give the state the power to charge anyone found to have willfully introduced a dangerous invasive for the state's cost of eradicating it. [...]

Deciding what invasive species are dangerous enough to be prohibited statewide will be up to the council, which includes nine state agencies: Environmental Conservation, Agriculture and Markets, Transportation, Parks and Recreation, Education and State, the Thruway Authority, the Canal Corporation and the Adirondack Park Agency.

The council could decide that a species should be prohibited, regulated or unregulated.

Read more at link.

Comment on the Report

The state invasive species report is available at link. Public comment can be made through May 14 via email at, or by writing NYS DEC-Office of Invasive Species Coordination, Fifth Floor, 625 Broadway, Albany, N.Y. 12233.