State wildlife managers have upgraded a key tool in the fight against invasive species.
A new version of the WA Invasives smartphone application allows users who are not in cell range to collect information in offline mode and upload it later. It also includes new invasive species in its field identification guide, including northern pike.
The app allows users to report invasive plants or animals by taking photographs, listing the geographic location and any other pertinent information, according to a Recreation and Conservation Office news release.
The app was first launched in 2011.
“One thing that is really nice to note about the app is that it not only acts as a reporting tool, but it also acts as a digital field guide,” said Justin Bush, the executive coordinator of the Invasive Species Council for the Recreation and Conservation Office.
The app is particularly important for state wildlife managers because citizen reports have historically been key in stopping the spread of invasive species, Bush said.
Over the past 25 years, 33 percent of all new invasive insects in Washington were reported by members of the public.
In a 2017 report, the Invasive Species council estimated that if the number of invasive species in Washington grew by 8 percent, it would cost the state $1.3 billion. That estimate also includes cost associated with six species that have not made it to Washington, including quagga and zebra mussels.
“So being aware of species that you’ve never seen before and then reporting it is rally important,” Bush said. “If you spot an invasive species never assume someone knows about it.”
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