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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org