By Matt Fossen
PM News Report: Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013
Recent research by the US Forest Service Studies and the Finger Lakes Land Trust has reaffirmed the recent widespread presence and problem of invasive species in New York State.
The research examined the prevalence of 79 identified invasive animals, plants, and insects, finding Tompkins County to be currently home to 36. Areas hit particularly hard by the detriment are headlined by the American North East, the Great Lakes region, and the New York Finger Lakes specifically. 38 of the species are proven to be in New York State presently, with the National Average much less at 18.
The traces of the problem specifically go back to 20th century deregulation of shipping laws, which ultimately allowed for foreign harmful bacteria to enter regional ports via the St. Lawrence Seaway. Since then, problematic species of many sorts have grown out of control due to the similar environment of the North East to parts of Europe and Asia.
From fish to small borer insects, invasiveness has plagued the farming and fishing industries. One farmer from Watkins Glen reported $10,000 in damages to his raspberry crop as the result of invasive flies. In New York, the damage reaches $50 billion dollars annually, with the estimate growing to $220 billion dollars for the nation yearly. Major costs include combating the species themselves, inflated food prices, and treatment for human, plant, and animal diseases.
Nevertheless, actions are been taken by the state to mitigate the issue. Over 60% of New York counties have now been protected with stiff regulations for wood cutting, firewood transportation, and boating on contaminated water bodies. Torching and herbicide methods are also being used to kill invasive tree bugs.