Invasive Species Council of British Columbia

Invasive Species Action Month 2023!

Yellow salsify (Tragopogon dubius), Credit: M. Blackmore, ISCBC

Invasive Species Action Month (ISAM) 2023 is gearing up to be the most action packed, dynamic month-long campaign yet, as we continue the work of generating awareness and engaging the people living in BC on invasive species.

This year, the first four weeks of ISAM will focus on four different themes built around our behaviour change programs, targeting people, their hobbies and their habits:

WEEK 1: May 1 – 7

An urgent call to pet and aquarium owners – Don’t Let it Loose! Red-eared slider turtles are causing problems in our local ecosystems by competing with native species such as the endangered Western painted turtle. Eurasian watermilfoil, an aquatic invasive plant, has been let loose from aquariums and can quickly take over waterways. Invasive rabbits wreak havoc on agricultural areas, causing significant impacts to local ecosystems and biodiversity. Goldfish are causing problems in BC’s waterways, overrunning lakes and ponds. For all these reasons and more… Don’t Let it Loose!

Why you should never let a goldfish, rabbit or turtle loose. Experts weigh in on the problems surrounding released pets and the solutions for impactful change. Join us!

Webinar 1: Paws for Thought: Responsible Pet Ownership as a Key to Environmental Stewardship
Wednesday, May 3, 2023 @ 12:00 – 12:30 pm PST
Meet the Speaker:  Amy McLaughlin, founder of Amy’s Bunny Barn

Prevent the release of invasive species. Amy discusses the importance of research before adopting or buying a pet, shedding light on the societal impacts of releasing rabbits into the wild.

Educators!  This week’s theme for ISAM is about how being a responsible pet and aquarium owner can help prevent the spread of invasive species.  Did you know that many harmful invasive plants and animals were once pets, in home aquariums, or in small zoos or farms?  When no longer wanted, pets are sometimes let loose into nearby water or woods, and plants are dumped into ditches and ponds, where they can have huge ecological and environmental impacts.  Whether you have a class bunny, a school aquarium, dogs and cats at home (or whatever your menagerie may be!), there are little things we can all do to make sure our pets and the natural environment stay healthy!

Here are some fun games and educational activities that you can do inside and outside of the classroom to play your part and Don’t Let it Loose.

Ready… Watch a short video to set the stage with some learning about the issue.

Educators and older students (Secondary/Post-secondary) can take the free Don’t Let it Loose eLearning course (pilot phase) to learn about the impacts of invasive pet and aquarium species and be empowered to make a difference (10 minutes, certificates provided).

Get Set… Dig deeper into learning about invasive species issues and how to be a responsible pet owner with some active games, research, and engaging educational activities.

Go!  Play your part and take action!

Sign up for the free Invasive-Wise Education program for more ideas and opportunities!

WEEK 2: May 8 – 14

Gardeners, what’s growing on? Don’t let invasive species take root in your garden! Check out the Grow Me Instead guide for native
and non-invasive exotic plant alternatives. Do you know what’s in your seed mix? Oxeye daisies are still commonly sold in many wildflower mixes. These pretty but problematic flowers take over your garden and spill into the wild, outcompeting native wildflowers and reducing biodiversity. Show your mom you love her this Mother’s Day by being PlantWise – give the gift of a healthy and sustainable garden by choosing alternatives that are safe for our environment and Mother Nature.

Why choosing native plants leads to better garden health. Who better to talk about the best plants than those with the greenest thumbs – join us!

Webinar 2: Creating an Eco-Friendly Garden: Promoting Biodiversity and Protecting Your Community
Wednesday, May 10, 2023 @ 12:00 – 12:30 pm PST
Meet the Speaker:  Scott Pearce, Vice President, Marketing and Merchandising at GardenWorks

Native plants require less water, and fare better in extreme weather. Gardenworks’ Scott Pearce shares his top tips and some of his favourite native plants that can transform your yard and garden into their most vibrant states. 

Educators! This week’s theme for ISAM is all about knowing what you grow.  Many invasive species started out as plants in our gardens and unfortunately, many of them can still be purchased at garden centres and plant nurseries.  We can be PlantWise by learning about what’s native and invasive in our region. By planting only native or non-invasive plants we can help protect BC’s habitats and biodiversity.

Here are some fun games and educational activities that you can do inside and outside of the classroom to play your part and be PlantWise.

Ready… Watch a short video to set the stage with some learning about the issue.

  • Why are Invasive Plants so Pretty? (0:27) Listen to adorable Thomas ask his wonder question about invasive species and an ISCBC expert weighs in. (PreK- Grade 3)
  • Invaders! Invasive Species in BC (1:42) A quick overview about the issue of invasive species and how we can all make a difference in preventing their spread. (Grade 4 and up)
  • Take Action Tuesday- PlantWise in your Yard (11:21) Meet ISCBC staff as they share ideas from their backyards on how to be PlantWise, including common invasive garden plants to avoid and native alternatives. (For Educators and Secondary students)

Learn to be PlantWise Educators, older students (Secondary/Post-secondary) and anyone who is interested in gardening will enjoy this free eLearning course to learn about common invasive plants that are for sale and know what to plant instead.  (10 minutes; certificates provided)

Get Set… Dig deeper into learning about invasive species issues and the native and invasive plants in your region with some hands-on activities.

Go!  Play your part and take action!

  • Sunday, May 14th is Mother’s Day. Spread some cheer to the special women in your life by making or purchasing invasive-free flower bouquets! (Leave out the Baby’s Breath!)
  • Explore what’s growing in your garden at home or at school. Design a native plant garden and consider replacing invasive plants with native and non-invasive alternatives.

Sign up for the free Invasive-Wise Education program for more ideas and opportunities!

WEEK 3: May 15 – 21

Keep adventuring but leave the invasive species behind. As we head into the May long weekend – the unofficial start to summer camping season – let’s help our wilderness stay beautiful and diverse. Campers, make sure you BuyLocalBurnLocal when camping or travelling. Transporting firewood from one area to another can introduce harmful insects and diseases to new environments. Hikers, give invasive species the boot! Take the time to inspect your boots, clothes, gear and even pets before and after exploring the outdoors. You may be accidentally giving invasive hitchhikers a ride. Cyclists, start and end your day with clean shoes and gear. Take action and PlayCleanGo to do your part in stopping their spread.

Why behaviour change from all outdoor enthusiasts is the key to keeping our trails and natural spaces healthy. Give invasive species the brush off and join us!

Webinar 3: From Trailblazers to Stewards: Protecting Your Favourite Outdoor Recreation Space
Wednesday, May 17, 2023 @ 12:00 – 12:30 pm PST
Meet the Speaker:  Louise Pedersen, Executive Director, Outdoor Recreation Council of BC 

Explore the significance of responsible outdoor recreation and its crucial role in stewarding natural spaces. This webinar provides practical tips to help you make the most of your outdoor adventures while reducing your impact on the environment.

Educators!  Let’s launch ourselves into spring and enjoying the outdoors as the May long weekend approaches.  This week’s theme for ISAM is all about how to camp, hike, mountain bike, go on field trips and other outdoor excursions while making sure that we protect our favourite parks and recreation sites from harmful invasive species.

Invasive species are master hitchhikers, finding ways to catch a ride on our clothing, bikes, vehicles, outdoor gear, and even on our pets.  Some invasive plants, like Burdock (Arctium minus), Hound’s tongue (Cynoglossum officinale) and Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense) have sticky seeds that are adapted to disperse by clinging to fur and clothing.  Harmful forest pests such as Spongy moth (Lymantria dispar dispar), Emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) and Spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) are insects with life stages that can be hidden in and transported in firewood.  We may inadvertently spread these hitchhikers to new locations when we are enjoying the outdoors.  We can all help protect BC’s habitats and biodiversity by practicing PlayCleanGo and by only burning local firewood (Buy Local Burn Local).

Ready… Watch a short video to set the stage with some learning about the issue.

Get Set… Dig deeper into learning about invasive species issues and the native and invasive plants in your region with some activity books and hands-on activities.

  • Sign up for an engaging virtual class visit with your friendly ISCBC Educators to learn about common native and invasive species in your region! (Customized for any grade level)
  • Check out these Activity Books by Canadian Council on Invasive Species – available in both English and French! (Ages 6-12)
    • Invasive species on our landscapes (Outdoor recreation and Play Clean Go) (English), (French)
    • Invasive species in our forests (Protecting forests from invasive insects and Buy Local Burn Local) (English), (French)
  • Games and curriculum-based lessons from ISCBC
    • Who Dunnit? A game of observation and deduction to find out who is the secret stowaway/insect pest in the firewood. (Gr 1-3)
    • Vectors of Spread: Invasive Species Getaway Vehicles!   (Gr 4-7) Students visit hands-on challenge stations to explore how invasive organisms can easily and effectively disperse from one area to another.
    • Amazing Adaptations Hunt (Gr. 4 and up) Go outdoors on a scavenger hunt in the schoolyard or nearby nature and closely observe the features that make invasive plants so effective at spreading. Datasheet available in French or English.

Go!  Play your part and take action!

  • When you go outdoors with your group, practice PlayCleanGo. Turn it into a fun and educational activity to learn best practices as well as plant adaptations by putting one old sock on top of a shoe and see what seeds you pick up. Check out this lesson plan for Don’t Pick Up Hitchhikers: Let’s Play-Clean-Go!  Includes a pledge/certificate in English and French. (All ages).
  • Purchase boot brushes here in the Merchandise section of the ISCBC online store.
  • Spread the word, not the invasive species! Learn about invasive plants and animals and make “Most UN-Wanted” posters with artwork and information on how to prevent the spread. Display the posters in a public space to share the message.

Sign up for the free Invasive-Wise Education program for more ideas and opportunities!

WEEK 4: May 22 – 28

Dusting off your fishing gear? Ready to drop your boat in the water? Aquatic invasive species can decrease biodiversity, impact fish and wildlife habitat, and decrease our enjoyment of BC’s beautiful waters! You can prevent the spread of harmful hitchhikers by practicing CleanDrainDry. After you reel in that big catch, help keep invasive species at bay. CleanDrainDry your fishing equipment before moving to another body of water. Don’t let invasive species sink your boating fun – keep your gear clean, drain water from your boat and equipment, and dry everything before moving to another body of water. Remember to CleanDrainDry all equipment, such as kayaks, paddleboards, and wetsuits, after each use.

Clean, Drain, Dry

Why it’s so important to ensure invasive species aren’t tagging along on your gear. Make waves – be an aquatic steward and enjoy BC’s waters responsibly. Join us!

Webinar 4: The Ripple Effect: Understanding the Environmental Impacts of Aquatic Invasive Species and Preventing Their Spread
Wednesday, May 24, 2023 @ 12:00 – 12:30 pm PST
Meet the Speaker:  Brielle Comartin, MSc Student, McGill University

Discover the environmental factors affecting the impact of Zebra and Quagga mussel invasions. Brielle shares the insights she’s gained from the field and how you can make a difference in the fight against aquatic invasive species.

Educators!  As the days get longer and warmer, BC’s beautiful lakes, rivers, wetlands and beaches call us over to go paddling, fishing, and enjoy being around the water.  This week’s theme for ISAM focuses on how we can protect aquatic ecosystems from the spread of harmful invasive species.

Here are some fun games and educational activities that you can do inside and outside of the classroom to play your part when enjoying time at the water.

Ready… Watch a short video to set the stage with some learning about the issue.

  • What is a boat inspection station? (0:41) Listen to Hugh ask his wonder question about invasive species while an ISCBC expert explains and uses Zebra and Quagga mussels. (PreK- Grade 3)
  • No superpowers needed to fight invasive species -Clean Drain Dry. (full length– 2:33; short version– 0:30) If you are boating, fishing or paddling with your family, learn how to Clean Drain Dry to fight off aquatic invaders! (PreK-Grade 6)
  • Clean Drain Dry Video Playlist Select one or more of these short videos to learn about the issue of aquatic invasive species and how practicing Clean Drain Dry can help prevent the spread. (All ages)
  • Invasive Zebra and Quagga mussels (Government of BC; 5:27) Learn more about invasive freshwater zebra and quagga mussels and steps being taken to help prevent their introduction into BC. (Grade 5 and up)

Educators and older students (Secondary/Post-secondary) and take a free eLearning course to learn more about aquatic invasive species in BC.  Certificates are provided.

Get Set… Dig deeper into learning about aquatic invasive species in your region with some games, hands-on activities, and curriculum-based lesson plans.

  • Sign up for an engaging virtual class visit with your friendly ISCBC Educators to learn about common native and invasive species in the aquatic habitats in your region! (Customized for any age/grade)
  • Invasive species in our waters (English), (French) An activity book by the Canadian Council on Invasive Species (Ages 6-12).
  • Do some research to learn about some native and invasive aquatic species and then try this word search. (Grade 4 and up)
  • Play a fun and active game of musical mussels to learn about how invasive species can outcompete native species in a habitat. (Grades 2-5)
  • Find an aquatic colouring sheet or activity page here.
  • Learn about eelgrass ecosystems and the invasive European green crab with some engaging activities available in these lesson plans (both include Kahoot/trivia questions!)

GoPlay your part and take action!

  • Be a healthy habitat hero by doing small actions to connect to and help waterways near you! (K-7+)
  • Go explore and help clean up a water body in your area. If you’re on the water, remember to practice Clean Drain Dry! Take a photo of your group taking action and send us a description and photo about what you did for a special prize!

Looking for more ideas? 

For a deep dive into teaching about aquatic invasive species check out the resources below and sign up for the free Invasive-Wise Education program!

Date: May 24th, 2023
Time: 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm PST

Join us to learn how you can integrate invasive species education and action into your classroom in this engaging workshop.

Register here

During the Month of May

Each year ISCBC celebrates the accomplishments of those who go above and beyond in the field of invasive species management in BC. We have two Together in Action (TIA) award categories – a Student award (with a $1000 bursary) and an Individual award. Nominations for the individual award are internal and come from ISCBC Staff and Board. Nominations for the Student award are now open for nomination by the public until April 30, 2023. Nominations can be made by the student themselves or another individual. Student nominees do not need to be attending university for invasive species related education.

We’ll have some great new swag up for sale, including our popular sticker series, ISCBC branded bucket hats, and our newest children’s book ‘Munch Munch Crunch’ written by ISCBC staff. Check out our store!

Our Invasive Species Mobile Classroom is on the road for ISAM! Find us here:

May 13 – Scout Island, Williams Lake

May 16 – Nesika Elementary School, Williams Lake

Check back soon for more locations and find out how you can make an inquiry about booking for an event in your community.

ISAM Events Around BC

Here’s what our regional partners from across the province have planned this month. Check back often as we continuously update this list!

Week 1

April 30th Broom Busters
Broom Busting at Mundy Park, Coquitlam

May 6th Free the Fern
Monthly Invasive Pull, South Vancouver

Week 2

May 9th CSISS
Columbia Mountains Institute Conference, Revelstoke Community Centre & Online

May 13th CSISS
Education Booth 9am @ Salmon Arm Car Trunk Sale – South Side, Salmon Arm Fairgrounds 481 5 Ave SW

Week 3

May 16th CSISS
Diggin’ for Invasives 6pm @ Sunnyside/Mt. Cartier Trailhead – A Play Clean Go Education Session and Collaborative Weed Pull with CSISS & the Revelstoke Cycling Association.

May 17th ISCMV
Growing Green and Fighting Invasive Invaders (online)

May 20th ISCMV
Guided Plant Walk, Burnaby

May 20th City of Surrey
Nature Work Party @ Maple Green Park

May 20th Nature Vancouver Blackberry/bull thistle/scotch broom weed pull, Vancouver

May 20th EKISC
Wasa – Community Weed Pull
9am – 12pm @ Lazy Lake Recreation Site + Day Use AreaJoin EKISC and the Lazy Lake Environmental Association in pulling Spotted Knapweed along the Lazy Lake shoreline to improve and protect Western Painted Turtle habitat!

Week 4

May 24th CSISS
Education Booth 10am @ Golden Farmers Market – Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge/Spirit 8th Ave N

May 26th CSISS
Plant Wise Education Booth 10am @ Revelstoke Garden Centre – 899 Sandstone Rd

May 27th City of Surrey
Nature Work Party @ Bear Creek Park

May 27th CSISS
North Shuswap Spring Kick Off, @ Fun Center Parking Lot, North Shuswap