Finance Site Lists Most Expensive Invasive Species
Credit: Mike Baird
Asian carp aren't the only invasive species causing trouble in the United States. While the monster fish captures headlines as it inches toward the Great Lakes, other species have already colonized other parts of the country, and are costing plenty of money to control. A finance website has totaled up the toll, listing "10 Invasive Species That Cost the U.S. a Bundle." See if you agree, disagree, or are just surprised by some of the choices. It's always interesting when environmental issues are broken down into dollars and cents. When animals get in the way of people, sometimes the first reaction is to remove the animals from the equation, even with native species like the double-crested cormorant.
The cormorant didn't make this Top Ten list, from Daily Finance, an AOL site. The site based its list on animals and insects that were introduced by humans to correct an imbalance, and species that were once endangered but grew "out of control due to the efforts of concerned scientists and environmentalists to protect them." The list, and why the animal or insect is considered costly:
1. Canada Geese - for endangering public health by soiling parks and lakes, stripping farmers' fields and getting in the way of airplanes;
2. Cownose Ray (below) - for gobbling up the thousands of farmed oysters that wildlife officials have farmed throughout Chesapeake Bay;
Credit: Tim Sackton
3. Asian Carp - for depleting plankton and pushing out other species;
4. Coyotes - for eating cows, sheep and other livestock, and preying on household pets in suburban areas;
5. Pythons - which are capable of eating goats and crocodiles and could eventually pose a major threat to children, pets and livestock.
Rounding out the bottom five are killer bees, starlings, mountain pine beetles, brown tree snakes and Asian mongooses. Some of these are examples of nuisance species, as in ones that are getting in the way of humans. Kind of like the Vaquita porpoise in Mexico.
Who should win out when humans and animals collide? You can say that human life is more important than animal life. You'd shoot a bear that was attacking your child. But many of these 10 threaten more human livelihood than human life. A 2004 study pegged the total environmental damages and losses from invasive species in the U.S. at $120 billion per year, and rising.