Almost half of the plant and animal species in the United states that are protected by the Endangered Species Act are at risk primarily because of competition of predation by invasive species
"Combating the Invaders: Research on Non-native Species" July 26, 2001
The introduction of non-native species to natural ecosystems is recognized as a significant threat to the native ecological processes. Non-natives may politely coexist with native inhabitants or they may aggressively displace the current species. The best way to keep a wild area naturally wild is to prevent the propagation of non-native plants and animals.
This might sound like a simple thing to do, but in our age where foods are shipped around the world, people fly from coast to coast, and we throw out what we no longer want, the introduction of non-native species is hard to control. A parakeet escapes from its cage in Florida and joins those already flourishing in the warm climate. A fruit core is tossed out to germinate and begin a grove of new trees. A foreign clam attaches to a ship and lets go in a port across the ocean, starting a new colony. Burrs are combed out of a pet's fur and tossed on the driveway where they are washed down the sewer drain and into a local marsh.
It is very easy to spread living organisms into new environments. When we explore the wild places of our country, we need to be aware of how we may accidentally disrupt the ecological balance by transporting species in our travels.
What Can I Do?
Lots! Each of us can make a difference in our own little part of the world, even if we don't go out into the wilds:
As we continue to enjoy our outdoors in ever increasing numbers, our diligence in preventing and correcting non-native species invasions becomes more and more important. If we do our part to prevent the spread before it occurs, we save on the expense and controversy of eradication projects.
Take the extra few minutes on a hike, fishing trip, or backpack trek to check for hitch-hikers and leave the inhabitants in their rightful habitats.