Enforcement against invasive species needed

Published 7:00 am Friday, February 21, 2014

The United States is being invaded by harmful plants, diseases, insects, snakes, fish and other animals, and action needs to be taken to prevent further problems.

These damaging and dangerous outsiders range from the massive pythons now in the Everglades to the “snakehead” fish swimming in the Potomac River and other eastern streams and lakes to zebra mussels clogging sewage pipes and smothering stream bottoms; from privet hedge to Chinese tallow trees; from the redbay ambrosia beetle to fire ants to Formosan termites. Then there are the West Nile virus and other diseases that attack people and animals. Only a few make the news, but there too many to catalogue on this page.

We have only a few small bureaus in one or two agencies to identify these invaders that do a tremendous amount of damage.

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Some have been carried back on cargo from overseas, others have been brought here deliberately, either legally or illegally. Early in the history of this nation things such as the privet hedge were brought in innocently. Now there are smugglers bringing in some species for collectors, and some of the specimens end up being released, as with many species that were brought in legally to go in aquariums or for other collections.

The damage these unwarranted guests cause in the wild is massive and very costly to repair. Some of the guardians against these alien species were reassigned from their duties by Homeland Security to look for undocumented immigrants. We need them, and many more such guardians, to go back to protecting our borders from these invaders.