The European Commission has adopted a comprehensive new Biodiversity Strategy to bring nature back into our lives and a Farm to Fork Strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system. The two strategies are mutually reinforcing, bringing together nature, farmers, business and consumers for jointly working towards a competitively sustainable future. The new Biodiversity Strategy tackles the key drivers of biodiversity loss, such as unsustainable use of land and sea, overexploitation of natural resources, pollution, and invasive alien species. The strategy proposes to, among others, establish binding targets to restore damaged ecosystems and rivers, improve the health of EU protected habitats and species, bring back pollinators to agricultural land, reduce pollution, green our cities, enhance organic farming and other biodiversity-friendly farming practices, and improve the health of European forests. The strategy brings forward concrete steps to put Europe's biodiversity on the path to recovery by 2030, including transforming at least 30% of Europe's lands and seas into effectively managed protected areas and bringing back at least 10% of agricultural area under high-diversity landscape features.
Officials at the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) announced in June 2017 that DOI would coordinate with the Western Governors' Association, states, tribes, federal agencies, and other partners in a project to help strengthen existing efforts to address invasive mussels. The actions described in the 2017 report, Safeguarding the West from Invasive Species, Actions to Strengthen Federal, State, and Tribal Coordination to Address Invasive Mussels (PDF | 1.3 MB), vary from policy and program reviews to on-the-ground efforts to prevent, contain, and control invasive mussels. One recommendation in Safeguarding the West was the development of a reference manual to facilitate rapid response activities in the event of mussel introductions in the Columbia River Basin. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently finalized and released this manual, Dreissenid Mussel Rapid Response in the Columbia River Basin: Recommended Practices to Facilitate Endangered Species Act Section 7 Compliance (PDF | 3.63 MB).
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is urging anglers to report and dispose of any invasive Northern Snakehead fish that may be caught in the lower Susquehanna River. This advisory follows the documented movement of 21 Northern Snakeheads past the Conowingo Dam into the Conowingo Pool, a 14-mile-long section of the Susquehanna River located between the Conowingo Dam in Maryland and the Holtwood Dam in Pennsylvania. Anglers are reminded that possession, transport, and importation of a live snakehead is unlawful in both Pennsylvania and Maryland. Any of these invasive fish that are caught should be killed and disposed of properly or consumed. Anglers who suspect they have caught a snakehead are encouraged to NOT release it, and report it to the PFBC at (610) 847-2442 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on Northern Snakeheads in Pennsylvania, including an identification guide, visit the PFBC snakehead resource page.
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.
Asian giant hornet is native to Asia and was first detected in Washington State in 2019. It possibly was introduced through the illegal importation of live specimens for food and medicinal purposes. This hornet is a pest of honey bees that can cause the complete loss of colonies.
The United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has analyzed the potential environmental impacts of releasing a parasitoid wasp to biologically control the Russian wheat aphid. The Russian wheat aphid is a wingless, pale yellow-green or gray-green insect lightly dusted with white wax powder that feeds and develops on grass and cereal species. The biological control agent is a small, stingless wasp called Aphelinus hordei that can be used to reduce the severity of damage caused by Russian wheat aphids. Based on our assessment and other relevant data, releasing this biological control agent will not have a significant impact on the quality of the human environment. APHIS invites the public to review and comment on the environmental assessment until June 4, 2020, 30 days after publication in the Federal Register on May 5, 2020. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2020-0009 to comment.
Humans adores trees. But humans also migrate and trade, habits that led to the accidental introduction of insects and diseases that harm trees and alter the landscape. Examples are easy to find and may be outside your front door: American elms that once dotted streets across America succumbed to Dutch elm disease. Now all colors of ash species – black, green, white, pumpkin, and blue – are threatened by emerald ash borer. The already uncommon butternut tree, also known as white walnut, faces the possibility of extinction from a mysterious attacker. Many invasive insects and fungi come from regions where native trees have evolved to resist their attacks. When these species enter the United States, they find trees that lack this resistance. There's no immediate end to this dismal pipeline, but there is hope on the horizon.
Researchers from Dickinson College and the U.S. Geological Survey collaborated on field research to understand the ability of human searchers to detect the invasive brown treesnake (BTS) on the island of Guam. Due to their nocturnal and tree-dwelling habits, these snakes are extremely difficult to detect, especially when they are present at low densities in an area. A new study published in the journal Ecosphere helps explain why and provides valuable information on optimizing search methods and search locations that could be valuable if the BTS was accidentally introduced to a snake-free island.
The Washington Invasive Species Council, state agencies and researchers are calling for a census in May to help determine the location of Scotch broom throughout the state. "We need everyone's help to size up the problem," said Justin Bush, executive coordinator of the Washington Invasive Species Council. "Without baseline information about the location and population size, we don’t have enough details to determine solutions. The information from the census will help us set short- and long-term action plans." Yellow flowered, Scotch broom is hard to miss when blooming. It can be found in 30 of Washington's 39 counties (PDF | 282 KB). While known to be spread across the state, specific locations and patch sizes are not well documented, leading to the council's call for a month-long census.
"We're asking people to send us information from their neighborhoods," Bush said. "The information can be transmitted easily to the council by using the Washington Invasives mobile app or by visiting https://invasivespecies.wa.gov/report-a-sighting/. Sightings should include a photograph of the plant that shows enough detail that the plant can be verified by an expert. A description of the size of the patch is also helpful, such as whether the patch is the size of a motorcycle, a car, a school bus or multiple school buses. Photographs also can be shared with the council on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter by using the hashtags #TheGreatScotchBroomCensus and #ScotchBroom2020Census."
The United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the detection of Ralstonia solanacearum race 3 biovar 2 (RSr3b2) in a single variety of geranium plants located in a Michigan greenhouse. This particular type of Ralstonia can cause a wilt disease in several important agricultural crops such as potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. This is the first confirmed case of RSr3b2 in a U.S. greenhouse since 2004. APHIS has taken immediate action to contain and eradicate the disease from the Michigan facility.