We hear a lot these days about invasive species.
When I was growing up, any talk of invasive species centered on rabbits in Australia.
A 19th century letter notes, “the introduction of a few rabbits could do little harm and might provide a touch of home, in addition to a spot of hunting.”
Someone – probably with the best of intentions – brought rabbits to Australia…where they had no predators, and where mild winters allowed them to breed – like rabbits – all year round.
They quickly became an out-of-control nuisance. They destroyed forested areas by “ringing” young trees. They cleared wide swaths of all vegetation resulting in erosion and complete loss of topsoil. They created desert out of what had been rich farmland. They are credited with being the cause of extinction of hundreds – maybe thousands – of native plant and animal species, by destroying the habitat or taking over the food supply.
Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with the “bunny”. In Australia, though, it is an invasive species.
Not all non-native plants and animals are “invasive”. Certainly I don’t see my tulips spreading like dandelions over the yard, choking out everything in their path. White-tailed deer, since being introduced to Beaver Island, have not made drastic changes to our surroundings, and fit nicely into our landscape and our lifestyle.
Invasive species have an unfair advantage.
Sometimes it is because there is nothing – taken away from it’s native habitat – to slow it down. Sometimes an overly aggressive growth pattern allows it to take all the sun and moisture and nutrients, starving out the competition. Sometimes its growth destroys the habitat for native plant and animal species. Often, it is a combination of many factors.
My little dictionary gives this definition:
invade: To enter in order to attack, plunder, destroy or conquer: The Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia.
Invasive species are destroyers.
Invasive species are the second highest cause of endangered and extinct species in the world (human interference takes first place, I’m sorry to say).
Here on Beaver Island, we are trying to preserve our precious native areas.
Preservation involves a battle with the invasive species that threaten to destroy them.
Please continue to support this fight.