Invasive species are often hard to remove completely, and getting rid of them appears to mostly being a case of being vigilant and thorough. Invasive plants, for instance, need to be fully uprooted from the soil and removed from the area, lest they grow back. In efforts such as these, invasive species can be beaten back and managed, if not completely eradicated.
One notable case involves re-establishing wolves in Yellowstone National Park. As a result from hunting, wolves practically disappeared from Yellowstone. As a result deer, moose and elk populations (all native species) reached an invasive species status as they were overgrazing and not allowing young plants and trees to grow. The re-introduction of the wolves was able to restore the natural balance of the ecosystem, benefitting all species in the process.
The muskrat was intriduced from North America, where it is native, into several northern European countries where it competed with native species for food and threatend earthen water control structures by digging its burrows in them.
It was successfully eradicated from England through an intensive, government operated trapping program. The government trappers were employed full-time so that they would continue their afforts even as the muskrat population and their trap success declined to zero.
A great example is the prevalence of witchweed in North and South Carolina. Witchweed is an invasive species that is present in several countries. This weed “taps directly into a plant’s root system to rob it of nutrients and moisture” – as a result, it has had a dramatic impact on crops such as corn, sugarcane, rice, and other grasses. In addition, the plant can produce up to 50,000 seeds which can remain dormant in the soil for several years, which has made it difficult to eradicate.
However, successful efforts by farmers and the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in the area have helped to dramatically reduce witchweed’s presence from 450,000 acres in the 1950s to around 2000 acres now. The first step is to locate all instances of the weed, and to quarantine it – human activity spreads the seeds very quickly. Then all of the weeds are removed, and herbicides are applied to deter them from growing back. The soil is also fumigated, or injected with Ethylene gas so that the seeds will sprout and can be taken care of. After the plants are removed, the APHIS checks the area for years to make sure the plant hasn’t returned.
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