Upcoming week dedicated to invasive species awareness

From Burmese pythons in Florida to cheatgrass in the intermountain West, invasive species cause harm to ecosystems, the economy, human health and more.

From Feb. 22-26, the North American Invasive Species Management Association invites members of the public to join together for National Invasive Species Awareness Week to learn about the threats of invasives and how to combat them.

“We want people to be empowered to reach out to their elected officials and tell their elected officials they’re concerned about invasive species causing problems,” said Belle Bergner, the executive director of NAISMA.

In the past, the special week involved people going to Washington to connect with their elected officials and raise awareness about invasive species. Now, more people are getting involved online. Last year, the coronavirus pandemic pushed all the week’s events online. This year, the week will be fully virtual again.

Attendees will be invited to attend, free of charge, webinar series focusing on invasive species of concern in a variety of habitats. For example, one day will focus on aquatic invasive species and another will focus on weeds. Another webinar will include federal agency involvement in invasive species management. Caroline Murphy, The Wildlife Society’s government affairs relation manager, will present at Monday’s webinar about recommendations the National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species provided to the administration and Congress on federal mechanisms for preventing the introduction and spread of invasive species in the U.S.

Following the event, partners are invited to host local events from May 15-22 to remove invasive species and educate others about how to stop their spread.

This year, NAISMA has created toolkits, including news release templates, sample social media posts and proclamation templates, for states to declare the week is dedicated to invasive species management. “We want to make it easy for folks to grab images and text to help share the same consistent message,” she said.

Bergman expects to have a good turnout this year, with the event going virtual. Last year, organizers already webinar participation nearly quadruple from past years. Still, next year, she hopes participants can travel to Washington once again.

“We do plan to reinvigorate in-person visibility to connect directly with elected officials,” she said.

Individuals attending the event are invited to use the hashtags #invasivespecies and #NISAW. To participate in the webinar series, click here.

Header Image: A Burmese python (Python bivittatus,/i>) in the Florida Everglades. From Feb. 22 to 26, members of the public are invited to a webinar series about stopping the spread of invasive species like this snake.
Credit: R. Cammauf/National Park Service