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Invasive Species Awareness Week in Washington goes virtual

UPDATED: Fri., Feb. 26, 2021

FILE - This undated file photo provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows a group of zebra mussels. The invasive species of small mollusks seen sporadically in the Dakotas in past years is establishing a population in two river systems. Federal officials are offering a $100,000 prize in a crowdsourcing effort to find a way to kill invasive quagga and zebra mussels. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says the only area not yet invaded by the mussels in the contiguous U.S. is the Columbia River Basin in the Pacific Northwest that contains struggling runs of salmon and steelhead. The basin is also heavily harnessed for hydroelectric power, and officials estimate it will cost $500 million annually to fight the mussels if they infest infrastructure. (U.S. Department of Agriculture via AP, File) ORG XMIT: LA502  (HOGP)
FILE - This undated file photo provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows a group of zebra mussels. The invasive species of small mollusks seen sporadically in the Dakotas in past years is establishing a population in two river systems. Federal officials are offering a $100,000 prize in a crowdsourcing effort to find a way to kill invasive quagga and zebra mussels. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says the only area not yet invaded by the mussels in the contiguous U.S. is the Columbia River Basin in the Pacific Northwest that contains struggling runs of salmon and steelhead. The basin is also heavily harnessed for hydroelectric power, and officials estimate it will cost $500 million annually to fight the mussels if they infest infrastructure. (U.S. Department of Agriculture via AP, File) ORG XMIT: LA502 (HOGP)
Staff reports

Gov. Jay Inslee, in partnership with the Washington Invasive Species Council, has proclaimed Feb. 22-28 as Invasive Species Awareness Week in Washington, according to a news release.

“Invasive species threaten our economy, environment, recreation opportunities and can even harm our health,” Inslee said. “I’m calling on everyone who loves this state we call home to become aware of invasive species and take steps to prevent the spread of these damaging plants and animals.”

In his proclamation, Inslee notes that everyone has a role to play in stopping invasive species. The council encourages Washingtonians to be on the lookout for plants and animals not native to Washington as they spend time outdoors, take their dogs for walks or go about their daily lives. Residents should report any potential invasive species they spot using the Washington Invasives mobile app or by visiting InvasiveSpecies.wa.gov.

To help, the Washington Invasive Species Council is offering a variety of virtual activities during the awareness week to help people learn to identify, report and prevent the spread of invasive plants and animals.

“If you see something, say something,” said Justin Bush, executive coordinator of the council in the release. “If you spot a plant, bug or animal that you don’t recognize or you see an abnormally high number of organisms in a small area, you may have found a new invasive species. Your report could be crucial to triggering a response, containing the population and limiting damage.”

Without early detection and response, invasive species can cause irreversible damage to crops, forests, fish, livestock and other wildlife in the Pacific Northwest and nationally.

“The public is key to the state’s success in the fight against invasive species,” said Derek Sandison, director of the Washington State Department of Agriculture. “Not only did a member of the public report the first-ever Asian giant hornet, but alert residents have been responsible for more than one-third of new invasive species detections in the state since 1990.”

More information about the Invasive Species Awareness Week is available online at invasivespecies.wa.gov/projects/invasive-species-awareness-week/.

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