The Wildlife Society comments on Interior’s invasive plan

The Wildlife Society submitted comments on a draft strategic plan released in August by the Department of the Interior, calling it a good foundation but asking for better coordination.

The plan outlines the department’s approach to combating invasive species, and calls for reducing the spread of invasive species by building on existing plans, promoting partnerships, raising awareness and more.

The goal of the plan, required by recent legislation, is to “align programs and policies” across the department and leverage resources to address invasive species across the country. The Wildlife Society’s comments note that the draft strategic plan is “a good foundation for advancement of federal invasive species prevention and management efforts,” and goes on to offer suggestions to improve implementation of the plan and allow for increased stakeholder coordination.

“This draft strategic plan provides a good starting place to return to government-wide coordination efforts to deal with invasive species,” said Caroline Murphy, AWB®, the government relations manager at The Wildlife Society. “However, the strategies and objectives outlined in the plan will not be effectively implemented without a corresponding increase in funding from Congress.”

The Society stressed in its letter the importance of using appropriate and relevant metrics to determine success in improving invasive species prevention and management, noting that very few substantive performance metrics were included in the draft plan. The Society requested that, as appropriate performance metrics are determined for inclusion in the plan, they are provided for public review.

The Society pointed out that preventing the introduction of invasive species into the country is by far the most cost-effective means of managing the spread of invasives. They recommend “including an additional strategy that would make it a priority to improve data collection and dissemination for species that are imported into the U.S.” into the strategic plan.

The letter also calls on the Interior to increase coordination with existing government-wide invasive species initiatives, and requested a reassessment of the department’s interactions with the National Invasive Species Council, the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force, and the Federal Interagency Committee on Invasive Terrestrial Animals and Pathogens, prior to finalization of the plan.

The Interior will spend an estimated $143 million to address invasive species in fiscal year 2020 alone. The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act (Pub. L. 116-9), enacted in March 2019, directed the Secretary of the Interior to develop a strategic plan for the implementation of the invasive species program to achieve — to the maximum extent practicable — a substantive annual net reduction of invasive species populations or infested acreage on lands or waters managed by the department.

Header Image: A new plan from the Department of the Interior would help address invasive species, such as nutria.
Credit: Steve Hillebrand/USFWS