When European settlers came to America, they brought their animals with them. Some of these species, such as horses, have become vital to our culture and economy. Some of the new animals might have offered some benefits when their populations were under control, but as their populations grew uncontrollably, these animals became dangers to the natural ecosystem. Check out some of the most invasive species that are wreaking havoc in the US today.
The Asian carp was initially introduced into the American ecosystem in the 1970s to clean up weeds in canals and help with sewage treatment. Carp eat everything in their path, sometimes consuming 100 percent of their body weight in a day. However, once the carp made their way into the Mississippi Basin, they had access to every waterway in the United States. Since then, they’ve been on a rampage, pushing native fish from their natural habits.
Carp are the biggest threat to the future of fishing, as they’re destroying the populations of bass, trout, and other native North American species that are so vital to the sporting industry. Also, jumping silver carp have been known to leap out of the water at inopportune times, injuring people and damaging boats. To slow the spread of this invasive species, don’t throw back carp when you catch one, and avoid using the fish as bait, especially in bodies of water in which it hasn’t been introduced.
Feral hogs have been destroying the prairie farmland in Texas for generations, but now the species has spread throughout 38 states. There’s an estimated six million hogs in the US, with half of them in the Lone Star State alone. They have roamed untamed with no natural predators, destroying about $1.5 billion in crops nationwide each year. This destruction is why there’s a permanent open season on feral hogs.
One industry that has popped up in the Southeast to curb this problem is helicopter hog hunting. These guided tours take hunters to the sky so that they can hunt herds of hogs all day, killing as many as they can in the process. These hunts look more like a James Bond movie than your typical weekend in a perch, as you’ll hunt more hogs in one day than you would in a lifetime. Along with being a fun time, this practice is necessary to help independent farmers protect their crops from this invasive species.
This invasive species has caused so much destruction to the natural ecosystem in the Everglades that the alligator population is at risk of no longer being at the top of the food chain. Pythons made their ways into the swamplands because of irresponsible pet-owners who didn’t anticipate the difficulty of owning one of the deadliest animals on the planet—so instead, they abandoned these predators. They’re not as much of a threat to humans, but pythons feed on the populations of native species, decimating them in the process. Now, the snake has spread into southern Georgia and the Florida Keys. Therefore, you don’t need a special permit to hunt pythons.
Carp, feral hogs, and pythons aren’t the only invasive species that are wreaking havoc in the US. Today, of the 50,000 non-native species within the country, 4,300 are considered invasive by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. So when deer are out of season this year, consider hunting one of these species that’s destroying local ecosystems.
Wes White represents the collective — yet individual — voice of the Western Whitetail editorial staff.