More than Mussels

By: 
Bryce Christiaens

Are you accidentally spreading invasive pests and diseases throughout Montana or around the country? As Montana begins the fight against further spread of invasive mussels in our waterways, it’s important to remember that mussels are just one of a broad range of nonnative species that threaten our waters, rangelands, and forests.
Through our everyday actions – when we take firewood from home to our campsite, mail a gift of homegrown fruits or plants, or order plants, seeds or fruit online – we can contribute to the unintentional spread of any number of destructive plant pests. That’s why it’s important for all of us to be vigilant.
Damaging pests like the gypsy moth, brown marmorated stinkbug, Karnal bunt, or the potato cyst nematode can hitchhike with outdoor household items, vehicles, firewood, seeds, and soil. Fortunately, these pests are not in our state and we need your help to keep it that way.
It only takes one person to move something they shouldn’t. For instance, we know the emerald ash borer beetle didn’t fly to Boulder, Colorado on its own; it hitchhiked there. And now all of that city’s ash trees are at risk of dying. The risks from EAB stretch well beyond Colorado’s borders. Today EAB infestations are in 30 states, but not yet detected in Montana.
Invasive plant pests and diseases are a threat everywhere. They could devastate our neighborhoods and public green spaces, and cause damage to native species of plants, forests, watersheds, lakes, rivers and utility systems. As it stands today, damage from invasive plant pests costs our nation about $40 billion annually. We ask you to be a plant pest warrior and protector of agriculture and the environment by avoiding risky activities that could inadvertently move a plant pest or disease.
To protect our resources, join us in the battle against invasive plant pests and diseases. Please visit www.Hungrypests.com or the various websites below to learn what you can do.

Bryce Christiaens is chair of the Montana Invasive Species Advisory Council.

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