THE OKANAGANS MOST UNWANTED:
DALMATION TOADFLAX & EASTERN GRAY SQUIRREL
Invasive Species- What are they & what do they do?
Invasive species are organisms that have been moved from their original ecosystem. This is very bad for the species in the ecosystem that the alien has inhabited. Alien species are brought to new habitats in many different ways, some stow away in ships, some are brought purposefully to be pets or to be planted in gardens, and some plants have seeds that fly with the wind. The impact that invasive species can have on an environment is devastating, they can harm wildlife in many different ways:
- They prey on native species
- They can carry disease
- They change food webs
- They compete for food or other resources
Meet The Partners in Crime
Eastern Gray Squirrel
The Eastern Gray Squirrel a.k.a "Sciurus Carolinensis" is a small squirrel that usually has grey fur, however they can have black or reddish fur. Sciurus Carolinensis also has a brown face, feet and flank with a distinctive bushy tail. The Eastern Gray Squirrel will live anywhere with large trees, and some hangouts include Knox Mountain Park, and loitering around Orchard Park Mall. The last reported sighting was on June 15th 2012 in Kelowna. The Eastern Gray Squirrel was introduced to BC in 1914 when 8 squirrels were released into Stanley Park and by 1920 the species was common in Vancouver. The Eastern Gray squirrel's MO is having many babies over and over. The outbreak on Vancouver Island was caused by 2 females and 1 male that escaped from a farm and reproduced many times. Some of their crimes include stripping bark from trees, which can kill them, 2 counts of treeslaughter, eating lily bulbs, praying on nesting birds and eating their babies and eggs, 3 counts 1st degree murder, raiding bird feeders, 5 counts of robbery, and competing with native birds for housing, 1 count of forced migration. As you can tell this is a criminal that needs to be brought to justice. If you want to help reduce the spread of these criminals some ways to help include not feeding or relocating the squirrels, keeping all compost, garbage, and pet foods covered and using squirrel-proof bird feeders.
Gray Squirrel ***
The Dalmatian Toadflax is a tricky weed, it looks like a beautiful garden plant but underneath it is a invasive species. The Dalmatian Toadflax a.k.a Linaria Genistifolia is a flowering plant, the snapdragon-like flowers are bright yellow and the long stem branches out at the top. Both the stem and the leaves are light green in colour and have yellowish veins and the leaves are shaped like a teardrop or heart. The Dalmatian Toadflax was introduced to North America in the 1800's from the Mediterranean, however the plant did not arrive in central BC until 1953. The beautiful plant was used as an ornamental flower, however this shows that pretty doesn't always mean good. The Dalmatian Toadflax has overrun thousands of acres of land in BC alone, the flower has spread to the Okanagan, Similkameen, Thompson, East Kootney, Cariboo, Skeena, and Vancouver Island. No sightings of this plant have been recorded because people think it is a nice ornamental flower that can do no harm. However this plant has committed many crimes. It overruns farms and grasslands, 6 counts of trespassing, it forms a thick undergrowth that pushes out native grasses and wild flowers, 3 counts of forced migration, and it reduces grazing land because it is poisonous to animals, 1 count attempted murder. Its MO is to grow quickly, spread its light seeds by the wind, animals, and birds, and grow many new plants that can withstand cold weather. Some ways the government is trying to stop the spread of Dalmation Toadflax is by using integrated management, they get rid of the seeds by killing the plant before the seeds grow, they also use use biological control by releasing Mecinus Janthinus, bugs which eat Dalmatian Toadflax.
Dalmatian Toadflax (Linaria dalmatica) ~ Invasive Species