The Yukon has 20 invasive plant species including the creeping thistle. (Photo by Andrea Altherr)

The Yukon has 20 invasive plant species including the creeping thistle. (Photo by Andrea Altherr)

Be aware of invasive species, Yukoners told

The Yukon Invasive Species Council continues to work to inform Yukoners about the territories invasive, plant, animal and aquatic species

Yukoners are being encouraged to learn about the territory’s invasive species. The Yukon Invasive Species Council, a non-profit organization incorporated in 2008, is leading the charge.

The term invasive species refers to species, plants or animals, that cause trouble for the environment, the economy or personal health.

“Any species introduced is either called introduced or exotic, but being exotic doesn’t mean it is naturally already invasive,” said Andrea Altherr, executive director for the Yukon Invasive Species Council.

Currently, the Yukon has 20 invasive plant species.

“To this moment we have been concerned mostly with plants,” said Altherr.

The action taken on an invasive plant depends on how severe the species is, Altherr added. The dandelions seen blooming now are not the native ones, but it isn’t so bad that it reduces biodiversity.

The same can be said for the white sweetclover which grows along the roadside in Yukon.

“It is probably something we have to live with,” said Altherr. “The impacts on the economy are probably not that severe.”

That isn’t the case for an invasive species like the creeping thistle.

“If a farmer gets it in their field it will significantly reduce the value of their hay crop,” said Altherr. “That’s something more serious and if they see something like that they should take action because we don’t want that spreading into farmlands.”

What to do?

Altherr said there are several ways to deal with invasive plant species.

“If it is on your own property you can deal with it by the appropriate management actions which I would say is most likely removing them by hand or mechanically, that is the first defence,” said Altherr.

For larger infestations, the use of chemicals will most likely need to be used.

How about animals

The Yukon has five terrestrial invasive animal species – four are birds, the other is the seven-spotted lady beetle.

“When we talk about the birds, they are still relatively small numbers,” said Altherr. “House sparrows, they would reduce nest cavity capacities for other birds but they aren’t a threat in that we have to get rid of them.”

The seven-spotted lady beetle was introduced first in greenhouses.

“They find their way out and they can’t survive in our environment and they will outcompete the traverse lady beetle,” said Altherr. “It (traverse lady beetle) is now a species at risk because of that.”

Going under the water

Although they haven’t reached the Yukon yet, Altherr said zebra muscles and quagga mussels are an area of concern. People are asked to report any sightings of zebra muscles.

The Yukon Invasive Species Council is a chapter of the Canadian Council of Invasive Species and together they are partnering on programs to educate people about invasive water species.

“One (campaign) would be clean, drain, dry, which is targeting the aquatic invasive species,” said Altherr.

There is also a campaign targeted at gardeners which encourages people not to trade invasive species and not to drop waste in green spaces.

What to do if you find an invasive species

Altherr said there are different ways to report invasive species. There is an app called iNaturalist people can use or they can simply email the Yukon Invasive Species Council.

“First we would ask for the exact location and if they took pictures,” said Altherr. “If it was a zebra muscle we’d send someone out right away to check on this. If it was, say a dandelion, we’d check on this the next time we are in the area.”

Throughout June and July, Altherr said there will be community efforts to remove invasive plant species from neighbourhoods.

Contact John Tonin at john.tonin@yukon-news.com

Wildlife

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