Invasive Species

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Invasive non-native species, both aquatic and terrestrial, can be harmful to the environment, to other species, to public health, and to agriculture. Through land and water transportation and travel, aquatic invasive species such as zebra mussels and carp are devastating the Great Lakes and many waterways. Terrestrial plant species such as cheatgrass and melaleuca have transformed landscapes, and invasive wildlife species such as wild hogs and pythons are dangerous and are wiping out other native species of wildlife. These species as well as insects that carry disease vectors present serious challenges to control their aggressive spread.

States are trying to deal with the problem though measures such as restrictions on transport of invasive species, checkpoints, funding eradication and monitoring programs, and public education. The federal government is also actively involved, providing programs and funding for complex and costly invasive species control.

Key Points

1) The estimated damage from invasive species worldwide totals more than $1.4 trillion, or five percent of the global economy. /span>

2) Invasive species create a loss of agricultural productivity—about one fourth of U.S. agricultural gross national product is lost each year to foreign plant pests and the costs of controlling them.

3) The annual U.S. cost from invasives was estimated to be $120 billion, with more than 100 million acres affected (i.e., about the size of California)

4) Invasive species are the second leading cause of animal population decline and extinction worldwide. Invasive species have contributed directly to the decline of 42% of threatened and endangered species in the United States.


State legislatures are actively combating the threat of invasive species by passing legislation to raise awareness, appropriate funds, and carry out research around the impact of invasives on wildlife and ecosystems. A list of successful legislation from 2015 is available in the drop-down bar below.  

2015 Bills

    • Idaho passed SJM 101 requesting Congress to fund the Water Resources Reform and Development Act to significantly enhance monitoring and prevention efforts and to implement the intent of the act regarding dreissenid mussels.
    • Maryland’s HB 860 became law in May 2015 and prohibits a vessel owner from launching at a public launch ramp or dock unless the owner has taken specified actions; and requiring the Department of Natural Resources to convene a specified workgroup to evaluate actions that reduce the spread of aquatic invasive species from vessels placed in lakes owned or managed by the State.
    • Indiana passed HB 1501 and it was signed into law on April 15, 2015. It extends the life of the 11-member Invasive Species Council to July 2023.
    • Montana also passed legislation in April 2015, HB 525 to allow for a declaration of emergency and establishing procedures for using funds from the invasive species trust fund.
    • Utah’s SB 89 became law in March 2015 and established an Aquatic Invasive Species Fee on certain motorboats and sailboats, with the funds to be used for aquatic invasive species inderdiction.
    • Washington passed SJM 8013 requesting the President, Congress, and the  Department of the Interior to expedite the appropriation of funds pursuant to the federal Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 to significantly enhance invasive species monitoring and prevention efforts in the Columbia River Basin and to implement the Act’s intent.
    • Oregon similarly passed SJM 9 urging Congress to expedite appropriation of funds to monitor and prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species and implement the Water Resources Reform and Development Act.
    • New Hampshire passed HB 281 which defines exotic aquatic species of wildlife, and requires the exotic aquatic weeds and species committee to study best management practices in other states, and recommend courses of action to the department of fish and wildlife.
    • Hawaii passed SB 1299 which appropriates $4 million “to be expended as directed by the Hawaii invasive species council for invasive species programs statewide.”
    • Michigan designated June 28-July 4, 2015 as “Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness Week.”
    • Florida designated May 15, 2015 as “Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day.”
    • Illinois passed SJR 9 designating May as “Invasive Species Awareness Month” to raise awareness of the negative impacts of invasive species.

Science & Reports

The National Sea Grant Law Center produced this report on western state watercraft inspection and decontamination (WIP) programs to stop aquatic invasive species. A companion report provides comparisons of all 50 states, model state legislation, and multi-state reciprocity recommendations. The reports and an infographic map of the nation can be found here.

This seminal study analyzes the existing state laws and regulations that address invasive species, provides policy-makers with information on how to strengthen invasive species control programs, and includes an appendix of state-specific invasive species laws and regulations. The recommendations have been incorporated into state invasive species management plans in New Jersey and in other states.The study can be accessed here

This companion publication to “Halting the Invasion” provides the statutory framework for a comprehensive state program to detect, control, and manage the threat of invasive species across all taxa. The model law has been introduced by legislators in California and used to support reform efforts in the Caribbean. The complete publication is available here

This report reviews state laws and policies of 11 states from 2002 to 2009. The full report can be viewed here

This article describes research and strategies being used to slow aquatic invasives. The full article is available here



Download the NCEL Fact Sheet with key points and links to legislation here

The USDA National Agricultural Library houses a National Invasive Species Information Center. The Center maintains this interactive map with state statutes and regulations that pertain to invasive species. The map is available here

The National Plant Board maintains this list of state laws and regulations on plant quarantines, noxious plants, plant pests and plant disease vectors. The complete list is available here

This USGS interactive map shows zebra and quagga mussel invasions down to the county level. The map is available here

The Early Detection & Distribution Mapping (EDDMaps) project provides an exhaustive interactive list of invasive species of plants, insects, wildlife and diseases with national, county, and GIS point maps for individual invasive species. The full list is available here



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