*Feral pigs, which are now in southern Ohio, root up crops in farms and gardens, erode soil, and muddy streams with their wallowing. An ODNR Web page calls them "living rototillers." They eat the eggs and young of ground-nesting songbirds, the young of deer and livestock, and the acorns that deer, squirrels and wild turkeys require. They can also carry pseudorabies and swine brucellosis, which can be spread to pets, livestock and wildlife.
'They Disrupt Our Natural Areas'
Invasive species cause negative effects in a number of ecosystems, said Marne Titchenell, an OSU Extension wildlife specialist who's also a member of the Woodland Stewards Program.
"They disrupt our natural areas in a lot of ways, but one of the biggest is by reducing biodiversity, which is key to keeping our ecosystems functioning in a self-sustaining way," she said. "Healthy ecosystems provide us with many of the things we enjoy about the outdoors -- wildlife, hunting, fishing, birdwatching, walks through the woods, wildflower hikes, timber production, forest products, and clean air and water, to name just a few."
For their part, Titchenell, Smith, Stone, Braig and others hold workshops and classes on invasive species, speak at events such as the annual Farm Science Review trade show, and give talks around Ohio to groups focused on farming, fishing, gardening and other fields. They team up to present many of these programs with experts from other state and local agencies, such as ODNR and county soil and water conservation districts.
They also work with scientists studying invasive species at Ohio State's Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, which is the research arm of CFAES.
And they've co-developed a new smartphone app that lets citizens join the fight. The Great Lakes Early Detection Network app equips users to take pictures of suspected invasive species, then upload the pictures and locations for verification. It can be downloaded free here.
Data submitted by the app's users goes into the Web-based Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System, which tracks the location and spread of invasive species throughout the U.S. and Canada, Smith says.
Based on this information, she said, scientists can send out alerts, map a species' movements and form a battle plan.
"Everyone can be part of the battle against invasive species," Stone says. "We need everyone's help for monitoring and early detection."
Indeed, since 97% of Ohio's land is privately owned, Ohio residents can make a big difference in the fight against invasives, Titchenell says.
"It seems no matter the area -- forest, wetland, pond, prairie, city park, backyard -- invasive species are everywhere," she says. "Odds are that no matter where you are in Ohio, you can make a difference when it comes to detecting, managing and eradicating invasive species."