CBC News, May 2, 2016: With spring in full bloom, and both humans and B.C.'s animal populations enjoying warmer weather, the Invasive Species Council of B.C. (ISCBC) has declared May Invasive Species Action Month.
"Summer is just around the corner, and with British Columbians making plans to spend more time outdoors in nature, May is the ideal time to take action on invasive species," said ISCBC Executive Director Gail Wallin in a statement.
Invasive species are plants, animals, fungi and microorganisms from other parts of the world that take root outside their natural habitats, causing economic and environmental harm. ISCBC says the fight against them costs Canada around $34.5 billion every year.
The Eastern Grey Squirrel, for example, originated in central and eastern North America, and has since made its way to B.C.. Many reside in Vancouver's Stanley Park. The small mammal is known to bring disease to native squirrel populations, and disturb birds' nests, eating their young.
ISCBC has several tips to help British Columbians make their locales less attractive to the invaders and will focus on a new one each week through the end of the month:
Week 1: Don't Let it Loose - The Invasive Species Council says unwanted pets that are released into the wild have the potential to harm B.C.'s ecosystems. They recommend instead trying to return the animal to where it was purchased, or find it a new home.
Week 2: Be PlantWise - ISCBC hopes gardeners will be able to to recognize invasive plant species on their property and remove them. If you find a mainstay of your greenspace on their list of invasive plants, there is also a list of similar, recommended replacements.
Week 3: PlayCleanGo - According to the council, British Columbians can unwittingly aid the spread of invasive species through outdoor activity. Campers, for example, have been known to transport bugs and small plants inside firewood, helping invasive species take root in new places.
Week 4: Clean, Drain, Dry - ISCBC is asking boaters to clean their craft and gear, drain any remaining water, and dry what's left before moving watercraft from one body of water to another. This leaves as little opportunity as possible to bring foreign species between ecosystems.
More info about Invasive Species Action Month: www.bcinvasivesmonth.com