Okanagan's Most UnWanted!

Come look at these invasive species to the Okanagan!

What are Invasive Species?

An invasive species is a plant, animal, fungus, or bacterium that is not native to a region. They may be introduced by wood products, ships or ornamental plants. They can negatively affect our economy, our environment, or our health and cost billions of dollars each year to eradicate. Invasive plants and animals are the second greatest threat to biodiversity after habitat loss.

Himalayan Blackberry

The invasive species plant I'm doing is the Himalayan Blackberry, its scientific name is Rubus armeniacus and its common name is known scientifically as Rubus discolor, R. procerus or R. fruticosa. This plant originated in Europe and was introduced to America in 1885 by an American botanist and it is now widespread in much of the province along the Pacific Coast. They may be found in BC in the following areas: Lower Mainland, Sunshine Coast, Fraser Valley, Gulf Islands, central to southern Vancouver Island, Queen Charlotte Islands, the Okanagan, and the West Kootenay areas along roadsides, in pastures, along river and stream banks, and wooded ravines. This plant can prevent the growth of shade intolerant trees such as Garry oak and ponderosa pine as well as limit the movement of large animals. These thickets can increase flooding and erosion by taking over the streams and their embankments by preventing the deep-rooted native shrubs to grow which helps the stability of the embankments. This plant reproduces by its seeds at a rate of 7,000 – 13,000 seeds per square meter. Some of the ways that this plant can be controlled are to bag or tarp the plant, its parts and seeds before transporting them to a designated disposal site or by incinerating them. It may also be controlled by establishing healthy plant communities that are resistant to the blackberry plant. Another way is by cutting and mowing the infested areas followed by spot treating with herbicides and hand digging to remove the root systems. Using chemical controls and releasing herbivorous insects has not been attempted due to the risk that these may pose to closely related, commercially important Rubus species.

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Eastern Gray Squirrel

The invasive animal I’m doing is the Eastern Gray Squirrel; its scientific name is Sciurus carolinensis. Its common name is eastern gray squirrel or grey squirrel. This animal originated in New York City and eight squirrels were introduced to Stanley Park, in Vancouver, BC in 1914 and by 1920 they were fully established and continue to spread rapidly across the province partially due to the escape of a male and two females that escaped a game farm on Vancouver Island as well as private pest control companies and wildlife rehabilitators who have trapped them or rescued the orphaned ones and released them in to new habitats. They may be identified by their large, bushy grey and white tail. They use these tails to balance themselves while racing through the tree branches and to distract any predators as well as keeping worm in the winter time. They may be found in city parks, woodlands and urban areas that are close to nut trees. They originally come from Eastern North America but have quickly established themselves throughout the Pacific Northwest. These squirrels strip the bark from young oak trees as well as damage the acorns embryonic root which prevents them from germinated themselves. They also feed on lily bulbs as well as posing a threat to nesting birds by eating their eggs and nestlings as well as taking over tree cavities which native bird species commonly use and have become a huge threat to the Garry Oak. 36% of all breeding females will have two litters in one year depending on climate, temperature and forage availability. She may have one to four per litter but could have as many as eight per litter. The main way to control this species is by persistence and prevention and it is highly recommended to use squirrel-proof bird feeders, don’t feed or relocate them and keep outdoor pet food covered as well as your compost and garbage cans.