Enjoying a local park trail or nature reserve? Be careful: it could mark the beginning of a non-native species introduction.
The moment you brush past a plant or set down your pack in a meadow, you’ve invited seeds to cling on to your belongings. Then, while on your next adventure, you accidentally disperse the seeds, spreading invasive species into a new ecosystem. Those invasive species can outcompete native species for food and habitat and sometimes even cause their extinction.
People help transport these invasive species in a number of different ways:
Seeds can be found on your boots, socks, and clothing: they may be lying dormant in the mud between your boot treads, or caught in between your shoes and socks, or they may have simply attached themselves to your clothes like velcro.
What’s more, those same species caught within the treads of your shoes can be in the treads of your bike, ATV, and stroller tires.
Spreading invasive species doesn’t stop at seeds or plant pieces.
Dangerous forest pests and diseases can be found in the firewood you take camping with you or use to heat your home. On its own, emerald ash borer will generally move less than four miles a year. But with help from people, it can cover 55 miles per hour in firewood, nursery stock, or personal belongings.
It's not just us humans that can contribute to the spread of invasives. Seeds and plant pieces can attach to our unsuspecting pets' fur, and can be spread when livestock, especially horses, eat hay that isn’t certified weed free.
With all of these different invasive species pathways it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and discouraged. But for outdoor adventurers, there's good news about the unique role we can play in solving the problem.
Preventing invasive species from spreading or being introduced is very simple. Below, you'll find the steps you should take to prevent invasive species from spreading to the spaces and places you love.
What activities do you love to do outdoors? Scroll below to find them — and see how you can prevent the spread of invasive species while enjoying the great outdoors!
Other key actions:
Watch these videos for easy ways to prevent the spread of invasive species while you enjoy the great outdoors: