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Invasive Species 
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An invasive species  is any species not native to a particular ecosystem, including its seeds, spores, or other biological material capable of propagating that species and whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm. exotic species are those plants and animals that were present in Illinois prior to the time of European settlement. Not all exotic species are invasive; however, many of them are aggressively invasive in new environments because their natural enemies and other environmental controls were left behind in their native land.  Invasion by exotic species usually results in the elimination of native species, reduction of the natural biological diversity and degradation of habitat.

Slowly, but persistently, making their way across the land, ecologically invasive plants are the silent invaders of our times. These unwanted plants destroy over three million acres each year in the United States and the annual cost of combating this invasion of damaging invasive plants is in excess of $35 billion. Invasive plants affect all of us as everybody faces increasing costs for food and lumber production while property values and recreational opportunities decline in areas where invasive species have taken hold. The beauty and biological diversity associated with healthy natural areas are being lost as well. Hundreds of invasive species occur in Illinois, and unfortunately, the list grows almost daily.

Governor Pat Quinn has proclaimed May Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month and encourages individuals and public and private groups to sponsor and participate in activities to help all Illinois residents and visitors gain a better understanding of the impact of invasive species on Illinois’ waterways, wildlands and agricultural lands. IDNR’s Division of Education provides a number of exercises on invasive species meant for use at various grade levels in the schools. 

 

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