The Okanagan's Most Unwanted

Eastern Fox Squirrel and Hound's Tongue, partners in crime

Invasive Species

Invasive species are organisms that get introduced (accidentally or purposefully) to an environment that isn't there own. There on, they usually disturb the native species in a negative way. Invasive species usually get spread by seeds, whether these seeds float to other areas, or they get transported by humans. For example, Hound's Tongue was introduced when farmers were harvesting seeds in Eurasia and some Hound's Tongue seeds got caught in all the others, and then got shipped to North America. From there on out, it spread, and now it infects our land. Invasive species can hurt local ecosystems by eating all of the native species's food, or just plain eating the native species, and they usually don't have any natural predator in these foreign environments.

The Eastern Fox Squirrel

The Eastern Fox Squirrel (Criminal #119, Sciurus niger) came into the Okanagan in the mid-1930's and it was first sighted in Osoyoos, near the border to the United States of America. Take caution in the Okanagan Falls area, where it is has known hangouts, and anywhere south of that area (Oliver and Osoyoos area). However, take caution as it can spread easily. To prevent the spread of this criminal, don't release it in a new environment where it can settle and spread (i.e If this criminal is invading your attic and you call an animal control officer, confirm that it will be released in an area that is normal for it, or even the U.S.A, where it came from). If you see a squirrel that is ~45-70 cm long (without tail), a tail that measures ~20-33 cm long, short ears with possible orange or tan patches, grey body and light orange/brown/tan on underside and a tail with a black midsection, tan base, orange tip and deep orange underside, contact right away. Be wary of it in urban areas, forests and orchards, and know that this criminal enjoys eating seeds, nuts, flowers, tree buds, fruit, corn, insects, bird's eggs, lizards and small snakes. Most recent sighting was on July 18th, 2012, in Kelowna, near Casa Loma Resort. This organism impacts local ecosystems by eating all of the other squirrel's food and targeting native species without having any natural predators.

Fun facts:

- They can rotate it's ankles 180 degrees when climbing down tree trunks, poles, etc.

- They like to be social, and you can often hear them chirping from the trees.

- They aren't very picky about what they eat.

Hound's Tongue

Hound's Tongue (Criminal #325, Cynoglossum officinale) came into the Okanagan in 1922 from Eurasia and was first spotted in Keremeos. This criminal was suspected to have been admitted accidentally when it got caught up in some cereal seeds that were being harvested. ~5 000 acres are contaminated by this dangerous organism, and it is considered very invasive. This species is a biennial (grows for a year after being planted and then dies), grows 30-70 cm high, with a stem covered in soft hairs that can be described as "droopy," and has small flowers that start at a blue/purple, and then turn to a red/purple. Be aware of it near roadsides and forested areas. It blooms in June and July, and be extremely cautious of the barbed seeds that easily catch on to clothing and fur. Also, know that these are toxic to animals (causes liver damage), but has a bad taste and distinctive smell (smells like a rat's nest) that usually drive them away. This plant can produce 2 000-4 000 seeds. The entire Okanagan is infected by this criminal, and it impacts local ecosystems by taking all of the resources from other plants, but has no natural predator due to its toxicity. The best way to prevent it is to clean seeds off your clothing and fur (make sure to discard of them in a garbage), cover bare soil with vegetation and kill it before it can grow. Right now, insects are being released to eat it and knowledge is being shared to prevent it.

Fun facts:

- This plant used to be used for medicinal purposes

- Some people will plant this in their boats or gardens to ward off rats and mice because of the distinct smell it gives off.

- It is in the same family as the Chinese forget-me-not (Cynoglossum amabile)

Houndstongue (Cynoglossum Officinale) / Gypsy Flower - 2012-05-30

The Okanagan's Most Unwanted Project

This is a science project made by myself. I'm a grade 7 student, trying to spread the word on dangerous invasive species that are invading our land. This project was to describe both a plant and animal that is invading the Okanagan, and it was made to seem like they are criminals. I hope you enjoy!