Your garden/yard could be the start of an invasive species problem for your neighbors
- Don’t plant a problem! Choose native plants or alternative ornamentals.
- Manage and eradicate aggressive invaders on your property like reed canarygrass, orange hawkweed, creeping thistle, common tansy, and bird vetch.
- Use certified weed-free forage (hay/straw) and gravel, and source weed-free topsoil when possible.
- CLEAN off all visible plants, animals & mud from your boats, floatplanes & equipment.
- DRAIN all water (pull the plug) from compartments before leaving the waterbody.
- DRY all equipment before reusing.
- Don’t dump your bait! Non-native earthworms and nightcrawlers are altering Alaska’s forests. Dispose of bait in the trash.
Northern pike are native to much of Alaska, but they do not naturally occur in Southcentral where they were illegally introduced decades ago. On the Kenai Peninsula, pike are considered an invasive species because of their heavy predation on salmon and other native fish.
Tremendous effort has been put into eradicating invasive northern pike populations on the Kenai Peninsula over the last decade. In Alaska, it is illegal to introduce northern pike or any other fish into waters of the state without a permit. Learn more about invasive northern pike, their distribution, what is being done about the problem, and how you can help.
Invasive plants like orange hawkweed hitch rides on your hiking boots, bikes, ATVs, and pets.
CLEAN off all seeds, roots, vegetation fragments and dirt wads before entering and leaving recreation areas.
Be a first detector of invasive species & stop the spread into rural Alaska!
- Learn to use the AK Invasives ID app.
- Invasive plants like orange hawkweed and white sweetclover are often introduced along roads, trails, and utility corridors.
- Clean dirt, roots, seeds, and vegetation
from your equipment before entering and leaving sites.
- Follow recommended best practices for field researchers and technicians.
How to Report
Learn to identify and report the most harmful invasive species using the Alaska Invasives ID app.
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Use Certified Weed-Free gravel, hay, and native seed mix. Buy Alaska Grown products.
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Stop the spread! Clean your boats, ATVs, boots, and gear.
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Early Detection and Rapid Response
EDRR is the most cost-effective way to manage invasive species
Alaska has fewer established invasives compared to the lower 48 states, and an opportunity to successfully detect new invaders and rapidly eradicate infestations before they are too expensive to control.
Elodea, Alaska’s first aquatic invasive plant, could cost the commercial sockeye salmon industry $159 million a year in damages if it becomes established in the state (Schwoerer 2019).
Invasive species cost the United States an estimated $120 billion annually.
The KP-CISMA has successfully eradicated Elodea from six lakes on the Kenai Peninsula.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an invasive species?
An invasive species is a non-native organism (including plants, animals, insects, fungus and disease) that is introduced into a region outside of its native range, and causes harm to humans, the environment and/or the economy. They may negatively impact your ability to fish, hunt, hike, boat, and recreate across Alaska.
How do invasive species get here?
Invasive species are introduced and spread to new regions by human activities. They hitch rides on boots, vehicles, ATVs, equipment, boats, float planes, ship ballast water, freighters, wood and food products. Humans may release invasive species through agricultural crops, planting ornamentals, or dumping aquariums and fishing bait into the environment.
Why are invasive species a problem?
Invasive species compete with native organisms, reduce biodiversity, threaten the habitat of Alaska’s plants, fish and wildlife, and are capable of causing species extinctions while negatively impacting local livelihoods and economies. Invasive species reduce ecological biodiversity, impede recreational activities, reduce property values, and cause huge disruptions to coastal, terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems. It is estimated invasive species cost the United States up to $120 billion per year in management and economic loss.
Are all non-native species a problem?
No, most non-native species introduced in Alaska can not compete with native organisms, nor survive our harsh environment. Non-native plants and animals are considered invasive when they aggressively out-compete native species and establish dense populations because the ecosystem lacks a mechanism to keep them in check (i.e. predators, parasites, disease, and competitors). Some invasive species eat or kill native species, some invasive plants release toxins that prevent other plants from growing, and others disrupt water flow across landscapes. Some non-native species may wreck-havoc in southeast Alaska, but not be able to survive the frigid temperatures of the arctic. A non-native plant invasiveness ranking tool has been created for plants introduced to Alaska. Learn more here: Invasiveness ranking .
How can I learn to identify invasive species?
Get to know the native plants and animals of Alaska. When you see something new that you don’t recognize, pick up a field guide, ask an expert and report it. Check out our homepage to learn how to report and subscribe to KP-CISMA updates. Follow us on facebook to learn about trending invasive species in Alaska and the most aggressive invaders to watch out for in the future.
What can I do to keep Alaska wild & free from invasive species?
Help spread the word! Clean, drain ballast water, and dry off all watercraft and floatplanes before entering and leaving freshwater and marine areas. Inspect equipment, vehicles, ATVs, bikes and boots for dirt, root fragments, and hitchhikers. Don’t dump aquariums or bait into Alaska’s habitat. Don’t plant an ornamental or agricultural nightmare (alternative ornamentals). Use local firewood only. Learn to identify the most common invasive species that exist in Alaska or in the lower 48. We still have an opportunity to keep harmful invasive species out of our state.
What is EDRR? (Early Detection/Rapid Response)
After prevention activities, early detection and rapid response is considered the next highest priority to mitigate the introduction and stop the spread of invasive species, and is by far the most cost effective approach. The goal for early detection and rapid response is to find incipient populations and eradicate them before they begin to spread. This approach, as defined by the National Invasive Species Council (2003), is the most effective means for eradicating invasive species and is intended to be the keystone of invasive species management within the KP-CISMA.
What is an IPM?
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an ecosystem-based approach to managing pests and invasive species long-term with minimal impact to human health, the environment and non-target plants and animals. Through a combination of techniques, including manual, mechanical, chemical, cultural, and biological control, IPM strategies focus on the biology of pests, site characteristics, and management objectives. Currently there is no biological control of invasive species practiced in the state of Alaska. Learn more about Alaska’s IPM Program from the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service and from the KP-CISMA Strategic Plan.
Are pesticides and herbicides safe to use?
Pesticides are chemicals used to treat pest infestations. Herbicides are those chemicals specifically engineered to target plants. Pesticides have unique risks that landowners and managers must be aware of in order to make informed decisions about safe and proper use, including both short-term and long-term toxicity that varies greatly depending on the chemical product. Pesticides should only be used when other methods of control, such as manual and mechanical removal, are not sufficient.
Learn about safe pesticide use from UAF Cooperative Extension Service:
- Wear protective clothing and safety devices as recommended on the label. Bathe or shower after each use.
- Read the pesticide label—even if you’ve used the pesticide before. Follow closely the instructions on the label (and any other directions you have).
- Be cautious when you apply pesticides. Know your legal responsibility as a pesticide applicator. You may be liable for injury or damage resulting from pesticide use.
The KP-CISMA recommends herbicides/pesticides as a tool for rapid response of the most harmful populations of invasive species that can still be eradicated from the Kenai Peninsula (i.e. Bird vetch, Elodea and Northern Pike). Partners carefully choose the right pesticide application technique and prescription for these aggressive invaders, and minimize non-target impacts as much as possible. Herbicides are not appropriate for long-term control, and plants will eventually develop resistance to herbicides. Not all herbicides are appropriate for all weeds, nor are they appropriate for all sites (i.e. lawns, wooded areas, near streams, etc.). Make sure to carefully read the entire herbicide label to determine the right chemical for the location and the targeted invasive species. Follow all label instructions – it’s the law!