Invasive Species Program

An exotic or non-native species is a species that is not indigenous to a given location and has been introduced, either accidentally or deliberately, into areas beyond its natural range. Non-native can refer to species from other countries, regions, states, ecosystems or even local habitats. An exotic invasive species is defined as a non-native species whose introduction causes or is likely to cause harm to the economy, the environment, or to human health. Invasive species have certain characteristics that enable them to rapidly invade new areas and out-compete native species for resources. They are able to reproduce quickly, profusely and unchecked without the pests and predators of their natural environment to help restrict and control growth and range.

Non-native invasive species are a growing problem in the United States and South Carolina. These invasive species can be found in natural areas, croplands, pastures, forests, wetlands, waterways, and parks. Invasive species can be thought of as biological pollutants, reducing plant biodiversity and severely threatening the stability and sustainability of ecosystems. Most recent estimates that 42% of the nation's endangered and threatened species have declined as a result of encroaching exotic invasives. The direct cost of invasive species to the American economy is estimated at $138 billion per year.

The management of invasive species is challenging and complicated. Preventing potentially invasive species from entering an area is the most effective strategy. Careful monitoring can detect a pest before it becomes established and provide a rapid response to eradicate or control the pest and help to reduce environmental and economic impacts. This requires the awareness, participation and support of everyone in South Carolina. Please take some time to review our pest alerts to become familiar with invasive threats to South Carolina.

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