Saturday, March 23, 2024

Invasive Species-- A One-Way Street?


Fear of—and talk about—invasive species is never-ending in the United States. Not a day goes by without local or national news media highlighting the threat of zebra mussels, purple loosestrife, round gobies, Asian (flying) carp, Gypsy moths, Burmese pythons, Kudzu, Wisteria, Eurasian milfoil, “murder hornets,” or any of literally dozens of other species. We are told, apparently correctly, that these species will simply push our native species out and take over the environment.

This always prompts me to ask several questions, none of which have ever been properly answered—or answered at all, probably because they are not supposed to be asked.

1)      Why? Are our native species all so pathetically weak and averse to successful reproduction that they simply can’t compete?

2)      Why is it that we are told invasive species are a national disaster in the making-- and require us to spend billions of dollars in the fight to limit their footprint in our native ecosystems--  while at the same time we are told that human illegal aliens/undocumented migrants/newcomers are a universal blessing that enriches our nation beyond measure in so very many ways. (Undocumented migrants/newcomers certainly do out reproduce existing American citizens, that much is true.)

3)      Why do so many of the invasive species, flora and fauna alike, come from Asia?

4)      Does this only work one way? Or do certain of our native species-- upon accidental introduction to, say, the Asian environment—go crazy and take over to the detriment or annihilation of the native Asian species?

I envision Chinese authorities bemoaning the fact that a few North American species have invaded their homeland:

“Wang, I can’t believe how quickly the Showy Lady’s Slipper has taken root across the Motherland! It is a tragedy!”

“Yes, Zhang, there are beautiful, sweet-smelling, pink and white flowers everywhere one looks! My Godlessness!”

“And our lakes and rivers have been taken over by walleyes! Walleyes! They have nearly pushed out our gobies and carp! Now we have only beautiful golden-tinted fish that don’t muddy the waters or jump in the air and hurt people. And that have remarkably tasty flesh! What are we to do? President and General Secretary Xi Jinping is not happy!”

“We have to stop this—and reverse this! What’s next, the white pine or sugar maple?! The buffalo or bald eagle? Unthinkable!”


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