NEW YORK (WETM) – This weekend marks the end of the NYS DEC’s Invasive Species Awareness Week, but the state and environmental experts have tips on how you can help the constant fight against invasive wildlife.

New York State is home to dozens of invasive species. These include plants, insects, animals, and diseases. The DEC says invasive species can be extremely harmful to local environments and economies, calling them “one of the greatest threats to New York’s biodiversity.”

The department says they can cause habitat loss, kill off native fish, trees, and animals, cause a loss of recreational opportunities, risk public safety, hurt crops, and possibly cause disease in people.

New York Invasive Species Information (NYIS) was created in 2008 by the NYS Environmental Protection Fund and the DEC. Cornell Cooperative Extension and the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets also contribute.

Japanese Knotweed growing along the Chemung River near the Grove St. boat launch on June 9, 2023.

According to NYIS, there are at least 50 invasive species in New York State. Some, like Asian Carp, Japanese Knotweed, Spotted Lanternflies, or Emerald Ash Borer beetles, are more well-known and cause more visible damage. Just look at the banks of the Chemung River in the summer, and you’ll see plenty of Knotweed choking out other plants. Drive along the highway, and you’ll see hundreds of dead ash trees, decimated from the Emerald Ash Borers.

But others, like Kudzu (“the vine that ate the South”) or the Eurasian Boar, while still plenty destructive, may not be as “popular”.

NYIS and Cornell have a list of best management practices if you spot invasive species. Some, like Japanese Knotweed, require cutting, digging, and spraying with chemicals. Others, like the Northern Snakehead, require manual fishing or applying “broad spectrum” poison to prevent their spread. And of course, the best way to handle Spotted Lanternflies: squish them.

The DEC encourages New Yorkers to also report invasive species they find. You can do this by setting up a free iMapInvasives account to report a single observation. According to the department, reports from people in the community can be largely effective. The painful and poisonous Giant Hogweed has been removed from over 1,250 locations because of citizen reports, the DEC said.

Each year, the Department of Environmental Conservation’s week-long event highlights the significance of invasive animals and plants and the importance of fighting back against them. Events that are part of the week include paddling events, presentations, informational webinars, citizen science trainings, film screenings, and others.