New Jersey Unveils Strategic Recommendations For Battling Invasive Species

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TRENTON—New Jersey can wage a successful war on invasive plants, animals and insects if its arsenal includes tougher prevention methods, early detection of harmful species, faster response to limit environmental damage, and greater public awareness, according to a strategic plan released Thursday by Department of Environmental Protection Acting Commissioner Mark N. Mauriello.

“Our natural and agricultural resources are under attack from a host of exotic species. New Jersey is now armed with a comprehensive, science-based plan that will enable us to escalate the battle to prevent, control and eradicate these dangerous invaders,” Mauriello said.

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The New Jersey Strategic Management Plan for Invasive Species provides detailed information on the scope of the state’s invasive species problem and lays out a series of recommendations for addressing the growing threat to biodiversity, public health and the economy.

Crafted by the New Jersey Invasive Species Council, which serves as an advisory body to the governor, the plan identifies specific prevention methods, procedures for early detection and rapid response as well as control measures, and calls for better public education and outreach, and improved coordination among government agencies and neighboring states.

Invasive species are non-indigenous plants, animals, insects or microbes that adversely affect native biodiversity and severely damage or destroy natural and agricultural resources, consequently inflicting injury on the economy. Indeed, every year New Jersey suffers an estimated $290 million in losses as the result of direct and indirect impacts from agricultural weeds and other pests.

Harmful invasive plants, such as purple loosestrife and garlic mustard, already are common and widespread in New Jersey’s landscape. Of the state’s total flora, about 30 percent are non-native species, including harmful water chestnut and Eurasian water-milfoil, which choke many lakes and streams.

Invasive animal species also pose a significant threat in New Jersey. The Asian longhorned beetle, for example, was introduced to the United States from Asia through untreated wood packaging materials. Since 2002, infestations in Jersey City, Hoboken, Linden, Carteret and Rahway required removal of thousands of mature shade trees. In Gloucester County, feral hogs compete with native wildlife for available food, prey upon ground-nesting birds and small mammals, and may carry disease. The hogs also damage lawns, golf courses, farm crops and forests. Throughout New Jersey, the invasive microbe, known as West Nile Virus, is transmitted by mosquitoes, including the invasive Asian tiger mosquito.

“The completion of this strategic plan is a milestone for the New Jersey Invasive Species Council. We are eager to continue building and strengthening partnerships that will enable the state to effectively and successfully implement these recommendations to prevent invasions of non-indigenous species, limit future losses and reverse the damage already done,” Mauriello said.

To learn more about the Council and to read the entire report, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/njisc/index.htm


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