Thurday Thinking Works: Should Foreign Species Be Allowed in the US?

Thinking Works is an assignment my little girl has to do every week for school.  This week it is touching on a subject that I think about often.  Should foreign species be allowed for import to the United States.  Like my daughter my answer is no.  Since there has never been a restriction of movement of animals between countries from times past we are suffering the consequences of their impingement on our environment.  We have to do what we can to prevent further damage to our native flora and fauna.

Sure it can be fun to have a “cool” new pet like a South American lizard or snake.  Or maybe you believe it will be profitable to bring a certain plant to this country for feeding livestock or an animal for it’s skin or fur.  What happens when you can’t take care of that “cool” pet because it’s gotten too big?  What happens when your super profit idea goes bust?  Unfortunately for the rest of us too many times those animals and plants are left to do what they will in the wild.  I have yet to think of an example where what they will do is a good thing.

Here are a few examples:

photo credit: SoftCore Studios via photopin cc

photo credit: SoftCore Studios via photopin cc

Kudzu – An edible vining plant native to Asia was brought to the US in 1876 for the Centennial.  It does have it’s pros in that it is edible, can be used by livestock as feed and is useful in preventing soil erosion.  Though goats find this plant palatable, really what won’t they eat, many farmers found that cows won’t touch it.  Over much of the Southeastern United States you will find blankets of kudzu over growing natural flora even engulfing and killing native tree species because it’s presence blocks out the sun.  It is estimated the now wild plant spreads at a rate of 150,000 acres per year.

photo credit: Jean-Jacques Boujot via photopin cc

photo credit: Jean-Jacques Boujot via photopin cc

Nutria – In the late 19th and early 20th centuries nutria or coypu farms were developed in the US and Europe to cultivate the large rodent for it’s fur because it had been over-harvested in it’s native South America.  As the fur trade declined the unprofitable farms were left in disrepair and eventually they were abandoned or let their furry livestock loose in the wild.  This was a huge mistake.  The nutria has become a bane on the landscape the world over destroying and laying waste to native flora, marshlands, river banks and displacing native animal species.

Python in a toilet

This was the least disturbing photo of the effects of released non-native pets, particularly a python, I could find.
photo credit: WalkingGeek via photopin cc

Constrictors – You know – big frickin’ snakes.  When Johnny can’t afford to get a habitat big enough, feed the snake or is incapable of handling the sucker, what happens?  Either Johnny let’s him go or he escapes.  Those of you in the South know that stories of dogs, cats and other small pets disappearing because of snakes are becoming commonplace.  Who hasn’t seen the news reports of the python plugging up the toilet or the one who ate a small alligator only to be killed by it’s sharp claws as it struggled to get away.  I’d be hard pressed to let my kids play in the back yard alone with the threat of a giant snake a possibility.  Again, since the habitat is ideal for the giant reptiles and there is little in the way of predators they are free to start breeding in the wild. So then we get more big frickin’ snakes to eat our helpless native animals.  Unfortunately, we here up north are not free from the scourge of the released reptilian pet.  They are cold blooded.  Though they may not survive a hard freeze there are plenty of barns, basements and other hiding places to keep warmer during our snowy winters.

These are just a few examples of the hundreds of non-native species that have been brought to this country which are having a negative impact on native species of flora and fauna.  Our charge for this Earth is to take care of it and have the animals and plants in our subjection, but we need to manage that properly or we will do more harm than good.

How do you feel about non-native species of plants and animals being introduced or released into your area of the world?


39 comments for “Thurday Thinking Works: Should Foreign Species Be Allowed in the US?

  1. March 27, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    I’ve never thought about this before but it seems to me that God created all things in their perfect habitat and therefore, should be kept where they were created to be.
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    • March 27, 2014 at 9:51 pm

      This is something I’ve thought about also, but like you said there has to be a reason certain creatures and plants are native to specific areas of the world.

  2. Jacqueline
    March 27, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    Right now in South Florida there is a massive problem with non-native plants and animals disrupting the Everglades eco-system. I think it’s hard to control what is brought into a country, but there needs to be policy changes! The boa constrictor, tegu (a weird lizard thing), GIANT slugs that literally eat houses made of stucco are just a few of the animal species taking over down here.

    Florida orange juice was a huge industry that is now failing because non-native plants and these disgusting things called “evil weevles” have eaten/weed-over the citrus crops.

    • March 27, 2014 at 9:50 pm

      Thank you for sharing this. The tegu and giant slugs I’ve never heard of before. It’s such a shame that the Florida citrus crop is being so affected by non-native plants and insects.

  3. March 27, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    I’m going to be passing this along to my teen dd to read. We were just discussing this subject! Thanks for posting!
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  4. March 27, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    This is an issue not many people talk about. I love animals…all of God’s creations. I believe that all creatures must be left in their own habitat so they can be happy and thrive.
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  5. March 27, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    I’m against it.

    Here in my hometown, there was this case where a guy was keeping some invasive, large species of fish as a pet, and the courts were going to force him to get rid of it. There’s a reason certain animals are native to certain parts of the world. Sometimes we unintentionally bring species to other areas. It’s horrible what is happening to some open waters because boats and ships are bringing those invasive mussels and other sea/ocean critters to other regions because they are clinging to boat parts.
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  6. March 27, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    This is totally a thought-provoking topic! Something that I honestly haven’t thought about!
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  7. March 28, 2014 at 12:29 am

    Interesting post. I think animals should be about to live peacefully in there habits but the Earth is changing. Sometimes keeping animals in zoos can help keep the animals from going extinct because they can mate with each other. It all just depends. We as humans always want to go in and ‘help’ but maybe by living things where there are is helping.
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  8. March 28, 2014 at 5:33 am

    I never really thought about it. I guess as long as they are safe, it’s ok with me. I don’t know why people can’t just leave things alone, though?

  9. March 28, 2014 at 8:20 am

    I know why they do it. But I do not think it works out well in the end. They always seem to take over or become a pest of some sort. Often the animals wipe out the native species. (Kim)
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  10. March 28, 2014 at 8:44 am

    With the good comes the bad. You can’t import what you like without bringing in something you don’t like. We need to consider that before importing plants and animals. There’s all kinds of diseases and bugs our eco-system is not prepared for that could hurt us in the long run. Stink bugs are a prime example of something bad being imported accidentally. I think a lot of people don’t consider the negative aspects, they only think of profitability and the coolness factor.
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  11. March 28, 2014 at 9:17 am

    I guess it depends on the impact it would have. More often than not they are introduces without any consideration of how it will affect the local region.
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  12. March 28, 2014 at 10:22 am

    After reading about all the ape attacks that have happened recently, I agree- we need to be really cautious about introducing foreign species into our country, and especially about having them as pets!
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  13. March 28, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    I am pretty much with you on not letting foreign species into the US. You showed us some good examples of why not… Also, the brought in Starlings to the US from I think England and now those darn birds kill off our native birds and…. they are everywhere.
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  14. March 28, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    I’m not sure i mean in some ways it can be good but others not so much. Gong let son read this and see what he thinks of it.
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  15. March 28, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    I don’t like it at all! Being that mosquitoes were introduced that way and I HATE mosquitoes…
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  16. March 28, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    I heard about the kudzu a year or so ago, I had no idea that it could do what it does and move so quickly.

  17. March 28, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    I have to agree – we have lost a large amount of some species due to the introduction of non-native species which is such a same.
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  18. March 28, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    I think animals should be able to live in their own habitat.
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  19. March 28, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    I am in agreement with you and your daughter. The animals should be left in the environment which they are born so they can survive. I think it is horrible that they are brought here and then abandoned because someone wanted a statement piece for conversations.
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  20. March 28, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    I live in Miami and invasive species are a huge problem here. From lizards to snakes to parrots and non-native plants (in the water and on land), we have it all!
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  21. Maria
    March 28, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    I have never given any of this a second thought but you make several valid points. Thanks for opening my mind a little bit.

  22. March 28, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    I suppose it depends on what it is and whether or not it will be beneficial in the long run
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  23. March 29, 2014 at 12:56 am

    I see that kudzu a lot when I’m driving on the highway and it always makes me sad. It just completely overtakes the trees.

  24. March 29, 2014 at 5:25 am

    I think animals should be peacefully in there habits. I also believe that as long as they are happy and not in harms way it’s ok with me.

  25. March 29, 2014 at 10:12 am

    Exotic trees in Florida would strangle out whole species of trees. Melaleuca comes to mind. Brazilian Berry trees were bad too!
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  26. March 29, 2014 at 11:28 am

    I’ve always been torn on this issue, but tend to lean towards “no”. I think if something were meant to exist somewhere it would already be there, but then again sometimes “imports” are beneficial.
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  27. Pam
    March 29, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Great topic! I have seen a little written about this but will be more aware now. I tend to agree with you and see no real reason for this. People need to leave animals and habitat in their natural environment.
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  28. March 29, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    I grew up in northeast Ohio, and there is a big problem going on now with Asian carp coming in on ships…they have not reached Lake Erie, but experts say it will basically kill the eco-system in the lake if they get there.
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    • March 29, 2014 at 7:20 pm

      And here I thought they were only a problem in the south that would be a shame if they sullied our beautiful Great Lakes too.

  29. March 29, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Natural needs to be kept in it’s natural place, really I forget the name of the fish that hit the Northern lakes around Michigan. It really hit hard the native species. It does a lot of damage when something that’s from the outside comes in . It disrupts an entire ego system
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    • March 29, 2014 at 7:08 pm

      Like the jumping carp from Asia that were brought to the rivers in the South. Not only do they not taste good but it makes it impossible to safely travel down those waterways without getting hit by them.

  30. March 29, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    I really don’t know and I am sure this kind of issue is debatable since there will be a lot of feedback from everyone – I just think that, if they are with nature, why bother?
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  31. March 29, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    It’s so strange that I’m reading this post today. Just the other night I was watching Bones and the episode involved kudzu. My husband told me that he saw a lot of it when he lived in Missouri and I had never heard of it before. Then- here it is! I agree that invasive species can have a detrimental effect.
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  32. March 29, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    I guess I’ve not thought about it outside of health related terms–especially when it comes to exotic pets. I think you have very good points, especially with kudzu taking over and killing native trees, and snakes…ugh.
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  33. April 4, 2014 at 11:07 pm

    I can completely relate!

    • April 4, 2014 at 11:09 pm

      Sorry clicked before finishing! When I said I can completely relate I mean that I know exactly what you are talking about. Our state thought they should plant a “pretty purple flower” along the road way to make the drive more pleasing. Only problem with it was- it wasn’t native and is now a massive weed that no amount of spray can kill. It is taking over crops and even grass fields that people use for hay for the animals. Lots of land being lost to this weed.

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