The United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has analyzed the potential environmental effects of establishing an integrated management strategy to control cogongrass in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina. The draft environmental assessment is now available for comment. Cogongrass is an invasive exotic grass found on public and private property, along roadways, in forests, and on farmland. This federally regulated noxious weed grows rapidly, reducing forest productivity, harming wildlife habitat and ecosystems, and encroaching on pastures and hayfields. Because of cogongrass' impact on agriculture and forest industries, Congress has given APHIS funding to partner with Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina to control the spread of this weed. APHIS is proposing is an integrated management strategy that uses preventive, cultural, mechanical, biological, and chemical methods to control cogongrass in key areas of its distribution. APHIS invites the public to review and comment on this environmental assessment by April 1, 2020.
Invasive Species Resources
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USDA. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
Vermont Department of Health.
State Agriculture and Health officials announced that the Asian Tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) has been identified for the first time in Vermont. This normally tropical/subtropical species is a known disease vector for Zika, chikungunya and dengue viruses, infecting humans in countries where these diseases are present. The mosquitoes found in Vermont do not currently carry these viruses. Natalie Kwit, public health veterinarian with the Vermont Department of Health, said that while the discovery of Aedes albopictus in the state is notable, Vermont's climate is currently inhospitable for the mosquito species for most of the year, making it unlikely they will be spreading new diseases here any time soon. "The diseases they can carry are not endemic to our area, and in fact are rarely found anywhere in the United States," said Kwit. For more information, visit Vermont's Mosquito Surveillance Program.
University of Guam.
The University of Guam received another round of funding in September under the U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Protection Act for the surveying and monitoring of invasive pests of solanaceous crops that are on USDA’s Priority Pest List for 2021. Solanaceae, or nightshades, are a family of flowering plants that include tomato, eggplant, and chili pepper. As part of the national effort this year, UOG was awarded $38,000 to survey and monitor for two pests: Tuta absoluta, which is a moth and type of leafminer capable of destroying an entire crop, and Ralstonia solanacearum race 3 biovar 2, which is a bacterium, known as a bacterial wilt, that infects through the roots and is deadly to plants.
The work through UOG better prepares the island to manage these invasive species if or when they arrive. "There are certain pathogens and insects that have a reputation of being really bad. These are two of them," said project lead Robert L. Schlub, a researcher and faculty member of UOG Cooperative Extension and Outreach with a doctorate in plant pathology. "They aren’t on Guam, but if they show up, we want to know so we can help get them under control."
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.
Montana watercraft inspection stations have intercepted 13 boats carrying invasive mollusks into the state this year. As of May 30, inspectors have caught 12 boats with invasive zebra or quagga mussels and one boat with red rim melania snails attached to watercraft.
DOI. Office of Insular Affairs.
U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, Douglas W. Domenech announced the release of $3,442,389 in fiscal year (FY) 2020 grant funding to suppress and control the brown tree snake (BTS), Boiga irregularis, primarily on Guam. Funds also support prevention, detection, and rapid response efforts in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and Hawaii, in addition to research and development on how to improve suppression methods and potentially eradicate the snake on Guam. The Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) Brown Tree Snake Control program FY 2020 funds are divided among several federal, state, and territorial agencies that collaborate in support of the three pillars of BTS suppression: $1,229,296 is used for control in rapid response and research activities, $1,724,210 is used for interdiction, and $488,883 is used for prevention through coordination and outreach.
DOI. Office of Insular Affairs.
U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, Douglas W. Domenech announced $942,206 in fiscal year (FY) 2020 Coral Reef and Natural Resources Initiative grants to eradicate and control the spread of invasive species in the U.S. territories of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), as well as in the Republic of Palau, and Yap, in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). Funding will be used to introduce biological control of coconut rhinoceros beetles, control and eradicate feral cats and monitor lizards, and destroy wild vines, all of which are disruptive to ecological systems and impacting communities and livelihoods in the islands.
DOI. Office of Insular Affairs.
Doug Domenech, U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs this week announced $1,488,890 in fiscal year 2018 grants to combat invasive species and protect natural resources in the U.S. Territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as the freely associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau. "Invasive species in the islands are disruptive for both marine and terrestrial resources in the islands, which already face a delicate balance," said Assistant Secretary Domenech. "Secretary Zinke and I are pleased to help control and eradicate invasive species in the islands in order to protect public health, livelihoods, and fragile environments and economies."
United States Department of the Interior.
Interior Acting Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Nikolao Pula made available $409,885 to preserve natural and cultural resources and protect against invasive species on Guam. “We are especially pleased that Congress was able to provide some extra funding in FY 2017 to mitigate and control the coconut rhinoceros beetle and little fire ant on Guam,” said Pula. “All funding supports Governor Eddie Calvo’s efforts in protecting Guam’s natural resources now and for the future.”
DOI. United States Geological Survey.
For the first time, an invasive brown treesnake population has been found on Cocos Island, an 83.1 acre atoll located 1.5 miles off the southwest coast of Guam. The brown treesnake was a major contributor to the loss of nine of 11 native forest birds and significant population declines of several native lizards, bats and other bird species on Guam. They now pose a threat to the wildlife of Cocos Island. Guam Department of Agriculture Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources is working with partners to better understand how many brown treesnakes are on the island and the best way to remove them.
Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announces a $837,000 grant to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks to combat invasive mussels in Montana. These grant funds will be used to improve inspection/decontamination stations; provide campsites for inspection staff; purchase inspection and decontamination equipment, materials and supplies, outreach materials, storage sheds, and shelters; and also provide for sampling and analysis.
Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. Montana Invasive Species Council.
The Montana and Washington invasive species councils have joined forces to stop wild pigs from crossing borders. The two councils issued a report with recommendations and best management practices aimed at helping federal, state, provincial and local landowners manage wild pigs in the western United States and Canada. "Wild pig populations are expanding in the western provinces of Canada and in the United States." said Stephanie Criswell, coordinator of the Montana Invasive Species Council. "We are at a unique point in time where we can work together to prevent Canadian wild pigs from spreading across borders into unaffected states like Montana."
In early 2020, the two invasive species councils convened a working group of more than 40 federal, state and Canadian feral swine experts to discuss challenges and opportunities to prevent feral swine along interstate and international borders. Finalized this month, the report includes 22 recommendations that address five strategic areas of feral swine management. Recommendations include standardizing communications to the public, expanding monitoring networks by partnering with non-traditional organizations such as hunting groups, and formalizing notification protocols for reports that will be shared between state and provincial authorities along the international border. The complete report can be found at misc.mt.gov.
Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries.
U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) officials have confirmed the first detection of sweet orange scab (SOS) in Alabama. The fruit sample was collected in Baldwin County by Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries' (ADAI) plant protection inspectors during a delimiting survey for citrus greening disease. The Auburn University Plant Diagnostic Clinic provided the initial diagnosis of SOS, and USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) program lab personnel confirmed the diagnosis. SOS is a plant disease caused by the fungus Elsinöe australis and does not pose a threat to human or animal health. The disease is appropriately named as it results in scab-like lesions on fruit rinds and, less often, on leaves and twigs of sweet oranges, limes, lemons, mandarins, satsumas, kumquats, grapefruit, tangerines and tangerine hybrids. This is the first confirmed case of SOS in Alabama despite annual surveillance for citrus pathogens by ADAI plant protection inspectors.
DOI. United States Geological Survey.
On May 14, Director Reilly signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of the Navy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The MOA provides for continuity of operations for the USFWS and the USGS with construction of new office and lab facilities on the Guam National Wildlife Refuge in conjunction with DOD’s construction of a Marine Corps firing range. "The USGS has a long history of collaborating with the Department of Defense in support of U.S. facilities and force readiness in the INDOPACOM Area of Responsibility. One of our signature efforts ongoing today is a collaboration with DOD, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the local government in minimizing the impacts of the invasive Brown Treesnakes (BTS) and improving BTS controls on military lands on Guam," said Jim Reilly, director of the USGS.
Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation.
As part of the ongoing response to the recent discovery of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) within the state, Vermont has joined the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s 31-state quarantine boundary. The quarantine will help reduce the movement of infested ash wood to un-infested regions outside of Vermont's borders. Ash wood may not be moved from Vermont to Maine, Rhode Island, or 7 counties in New Hampshire because the pest has not been identified in these states and counties. Vermont is also developing a series of slow-the-spread recommendations, initially including recommendations for handling logs, firewood, and other ash materials. To learn more about these recommendations, to see a map indicating where EAB is known to occur in Vermont, and to report suspected invasive species like EAB, visit vtinvasives.org