Western Governors’ Association launches invasive species council

By Laura Bies

Feral swine (Sus scrofa) are one of many invasive species that can damage property and natural resources, as well as spread disease.
©USDA

A new Western Invasive Species Council launched by the Western Governors’ Association launched last week launched last week will enhance coordination and communication regarding invasive species management across the western United States

Earlier this year, the WGA, which is made up of 22 states and three U.S. territories, adopted a policy resolution on biosecurity and invasive species management recognizing “the need to develop a more aggressive and cohesive strategy for invasive species management that includes prevention, monitoring, control and eradication.”

The new council, made of up representatives from 16 states and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, will enhance coordination between existing state invasive species councils, improve communication and collaboration on regional biosecurity and invasive species control efforts and advocate for regional needs at the federal level.

“So much of the Western economies are based on agriculture and natural resources, and the environment is one of the reasons people live here,” said Justin Bush, the chairman of the new council and executive coordinator of the Washington Invasive Species Council, according to reporting from the Associated Press. “Invasive species pose a direct threat to that.”

The new council will meet for the first time in April.

Invasive species have also garnered attention on Capitol Hill in the past year.  In February, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing examining the effects of invasive species on wildlife, public health and infrastructure. Last month, the House Agriculture Committee examined the impact that invasive species have on American agriculture.

Despite the congressional interest, adequate funding for the management and eradication of invasive species is still lacking. In June, The Wildlife Society joined with partners from the National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species to request that Senate appropriators reject the administration’s proposal to dramatically reduce funding for the National Invasive Species Council. That proposal would have cut appropriations for the program from $1.2 million in Fiscal Year 2019 to $600,000 in FY 2020.

Read TWS’ Position Statement on Invasive and Feral Species.

Laura BiesLaura Bies is a government relations contractor and freelance writer for The Wildlife Society. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science and a law degree from George Washington University. Laura has worked with The Wildlife Society since 2005. Read more of Laura's articles.

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