The cat is out of the bag, the horse has left to barn, the train has left the station and Pandora’s Box has been opened. Through man’s relatively new and efficient modes of transportation (ships, planes, trains and automobiles), the great potential for making the transport of non-native species into various areas of the world, has been realized. Organisms that would have normally migrated slowly by natural processes, if at all, have almost suddenly been redistributed and given a chance to take root in places they normally would not have occurred and, unfortunately, original animal and plant communities that had slowly evolved together must now contend with outside invaders.
At Camp Salmen, foreign species like Christmas Berry, Chinese Privet, Tallow trees, Japanese Climbing Fern, Wisteria, Fire ants, Cherokee climbing rose, Legustrum, Mimosa, Formosan termites, Cogon grass, Tung Nut trees and Fig vines are firmly established and some are aggressively muscling in on the natives. We’ve tried to find and control some of the more obvious and egregious ones like Cherokee rose, Fire ants, Cogon grass and Tallow, but some defy these efforts through sheer numbers, camouflage or even craftiness. Of course, we’ve sent some of our own emissaries abroad on the counter-attack like Muskrats, Canadian geese, crayfish, webworms, Loblolly pine mealy bugs, Red-eared turtles, Goldenrod and good old American cockroaches (a.k.a. Palmetto bugs).
However, all is not lost. Obviously, the great preponderance of native species remain right where they’ve been at Camp Salmen, singing kumbaya together as they have for centuries. It remains to be seen if any of the invaders won’t reach some kind of limit to their spreading, or possibly falter and fail naturally, or be successfully eradicated. Who knows what our ecology will eventually evolve into, or even whether it will stay that way very long. On a planetary scale, as far as ecology is concerned, we are in new territory.
In the meantime, environmentally responsible citizens can help preserve the ecologies of ours and other areas by following advice recently promoted by The Nature Conservancy: be careful to remove seeds clinging to or hidden on shoes and clothing before traveling to new locales; don’t release aquarium fish, plants, bait minnows, bugs and mudbugs or any other exotic organisms, no matter what the species, into a new habitat where that species did not originate; don’t move cut firewood from dead trees very far because it may be infected with dangerous pests; beware of transporting a new pest found in leaf compost, the Asian jumping worm; if you’re a hunter don’t dump hogs in the woods to hunt, because once they get loose they multiply and cause environmental damage; similarly, advocate and/or participate in responsible deer management so this species does not also get out of control.