Throughout the world, non-native invasive species have become an overwhelming problem resulting in impacts to the natural environment and managed landscapes. Invasive species typically possess certain traits that give them an advantage over most native species. The most common traits include the production of many offspring, early and rapid development, and adaptability and high tolerance to many environmental conditions. These traits allow invasive species to be highly competitive and, in many cases, suppress native species. Studies show that invasives can reduce natural diversity, impact endangered or threatened species, reduce wildlife habitat, create water quality impacts, stress and reduce forest and agricultural crop production, damage personal property, and cause health problems.
Invasive species began arriving in North America in the mid-to-late 1700s by various means. Many were brought here for ornamental uses, erosion control, or to provide for wildlife habitat. Others arrived inadvertently through international travel and commerce.
Impacts and Actions
Biologists have found that invasive species cover more than 100 million acres of land in the U.S. and their population numbers continue to spread. The repeated process of spread has become so extreme that invasive species cost the United States billions of dollars per year. This is a result of lost agricultural and forest crops, impacts to natural resources and the environment, and the control efforts required to eradicate them.
On February 3, 1999, President Clinton signed Executive Order 13112, which established the National Invasive Species Council. The Council is responsible for assessing the impacts of invasive species, providing the nation with guidance and leadership on invasive species issues, and seeing that federal programs are coordinated and compatible with state and local initiatives.
Each state is also required to participate by evaluating and responding to their invasive species concerns. In the summer of 2000, the State of New Hampshire passed House Bill 1258-FN, which created the Invasive Species Act (ISA) and the New Hampshire Invasive Species Committee.