Governor Proclaims the Week of February 20 as Invasive Species Awareness Week

OLYMPIA–Gov. Jay Inslee, in partnership with the Washington Invasive Species Council, has proclaimed the week of February 20 as Invasive Species Awareness Week in Washington in solidarity with National Invasive Species Awareness Week.

“Invasive species threaten wildlife as we know it in Washington state,” said Inslee. “We can all help to kick out unwelcome invaders. I invite you to learn how to spot them and learn who to call when you find them–you would do a great service to our state and environment.”

Whether on land or in water, some human-introduced organisms such as fish, bugs, plants and other wildlife can damage agriculture, recreation, forests and other resources. They can threaten the survival of endangered species such as salmon and orca and change natural processes such as fire, water availability and flooding. Invasive species are a global problem that has cost the United States more than $1.2 trillion in the past 50 years. A 2017 state study estimates that some species in other states, such as invasive freshwater mussels, would cost Washington more than $100 million annually in damage and loss if they become established here.

The awareness week includes webinars and events aimed at sharing information on priority invasive species, risks to the economy and environment and ways to become part of the solution. Visit the Invasive Species Awareness Week webpage for more information.

“The role of the public can’t be understated,” said Justin Bush, executive coordinator of the Washington Invasive Species Council. “We have lots of examples where the public was first to discover a new problem species. Many organizations work together to perform surveillance and trapping to detect invasive species, but they can’t be everywhere. People playing active roles in their communities to protect the resources we value is very important.”

The council hosts the Washington Invasives mobile app and website where people can report sightings of suspected invasive species.

Beyond awareness and reporting, everyone can help by taking simple actions such as the following:

·         Clean your hiking boots, bikes, waders, boats, trailers, off-road vehicles and other gear before you venture outdoors to stop invasive species from hitching a ride to a new location. Learn about pathways that spread invasive species.

·         On your next walk, look for noxious weeds. Visit the Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board’s website to learn about noxious weeds and if you spot some in your yard or while walking in your neighborhood, notify your county noxious weed control board.

·         Dispose of unwanted pets, aquarium plants and water, science kits and live bait the proper way and NOT by dumping them into waterways. Released pets often suffer slow deaths in winter or may become invasive and damage wildlife and crops. Visit the council’s Don’t Let It Loose webpage to learn the proper ways to dispose of unwanted pets and plants.

·         Download the WA Invasives mobile app so you are ready to report sightings of invasive species. Learn about the council’s top priorities.

·         Buy firewood where you will burn it or gather it on site when permitted. Remember not to move firewood from the local area where harvested. Learn more about the potential dangers of moving firewood.

·         Protect salmon and steelhead by not moving any fish from one waterbody into another. This will prevent the spread of fish diseases and protect salmon and steelhead from non-native, predatory fish. Visit the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website to learn more about moving fish.

·         Use weed-free, certified forage hay or mulch. Visit the Washington Department of Agriculture Web site to see details of its certification program.

·         Plant only non-invasive plants in your garden and remove any known invasive plants.

·         Volunteer to survey public lands and trails as a Citizen Science Invasive Plant Monitor with the Pacific Northwest Invasive Plant Council. Learn more by visiting the council’s volunteer webpage.

·         Become a Washington State University Master Gardener and help your community identify, report and properly manage exotic and invasive pests.

·         Volunteer to help remove invasive species from public lands and natural areas. Contact your state, county or city parks and recreation department, land trustconservation district, or Washington State University’s Extension Office to learn more.

·         Don’t pack a pest. When traveling internationally, review travel guidelines on items that should not be brought back to the United States. Learn more about Don’t Pack a Pest.

·         Shellfish are at risk from infectious diseases and invasive species. Never move shells or shellfish without a permit from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“Washington is a wonderful place to call home due to clean water and productive land, abundant natural resources, diverse agricultural commodities, booming domestic and international trade and ample opportunities to recreate on the land and water,” Bush said. “Invasive species threaten much of what Washington embodies and values. Please take a few minutes to learn about this important topic and integrate simple preventative actions into your daily activities. By working together, we can solve this shared problem.”

Webinars and Events

Register for the webinars because spots are limited. All times shown are in Pacific Standard Time.

·         February 21–Washington Invasive Aquatic Plants to Look Out For Webinar (11 a.m.–12:30 p.m.)

·         February 21–European Green Crab Update Webinar (2–3:15 p.m.)

·         February 22–Safeguard Our Shellfish Webinar (11 a.m.–12 p.m.)

·         February 22–Hunting for Hornets’ Season Three: A Recap of Activities During the 2022 Season Webinar (12–1 p.m.)

·         February 23–12th Annual Columbia Gorge Invasive Species and Exotic Pest Workshop (9 a.m.–3:30 p.m., in-person only. Stevenson, WA)

·         February 24–Aquatic Invasive Species, Decontamination, and Meet Fin! Webinar (9–10 a.m.)

·         February 24–African Clawed Frog in Washington Webinar (11 a.m.–12 p.m.)

·         February 25–On the Horizon: Spotted Lanternfly Webinar (10–11 a.m.)

The Legislature created the Washington Invasive Species Council in 2006 and tasked it with providing policy-level direction, planning and coordination for combating harmful invasive species throughout the state and preventing the introduction of others that may be potentially harmful.