Paul Smiths, NY – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, today visited Paul Smith’s College to announce the Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act, legislation to protect New York’s natural resources from the threat of invasive species. This legislation would prevent potentially harmful species, like the Emerald Ash Borer, from being imported into the country and across state lines. The Emerald Ash Borer is a beetle first found in the United States in 2002 that has since spread to 31 states and decimated hundreds of millions of Ash trees across North America. The Ash tree is a mainstay of New York community landscapes with a population of 900 million trees and is integral to New York’s forest ecosystem.
The legislation gives the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) greater authority to regulate nonnative species and prohibit them from being imported or sold in the United States. Broadening the definition of “Injurious Wildlife” will help hold importers accountable for bringing invertebrates like the Emerald Ash Borer into the country.
“The Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act would give federal wildlife officials new tools to keep out invasive species that pose an imminent threat to the North Country,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “In recent years, we’ve seen many cases of invasive species from other countries – dangerous fish, wildlife, and insects that aren’t meant to live in our ecosystems here. We need to do more to prevent harmful, invasive animal species, like the Emerald Ash Borer, from coming into New York from overseas.”
“The first line of defense in controlling invasive species is to prevent their entry in the first place. This bipartisan legislation gives the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service the tools it needs to respond to the threats posed by an increasing variety of invasive species,” said Brett McLeod, Ph.D., International Paper Endowed Chair of Forestry Economics, and Department Head, Forestry, Paul Smith’s College. “Paul Smith’s College is pleased to support this effort to prevent the entry of both forest and aquatic pests. Our Adirondack Watershed Institute has been a regional leader in controlling aquatic invasives, and our arboriculture students are on the front lines protecting ash trees with cutting-edge injection treatments.”
“Governor Cuomo is committed to stopping invasive species from entering our state, limiting their spread, and helping New York’s communities recover from the significant impacts left in the wake of these destructive pests. The Governor included $13 million in the state’s Environmental Protection Fund specifically for prevention and control of invasive species,” said New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Strong partnerships at the federal level are critical to our efforts and New York is grateful to Senator Gillibrand for her continued leadership to help stop the spread of invasive species and the threat these pests pose to our environment and economy.”
This legislation would also establish an injurious species listing process based on risk to natural resources, and would provide the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with temporary authority to make emergency designations for wildlife that pose an imminent threat.
Currently, more than 200 species are listed as “injurious” to natural resources in the United States. Once a species is listed as injurious, it cannot be imported into the United States or its territories, or through interstate commerce, without a USFWS permit. Under the current system, injurious designations happen after a species has already been introduced to the United States and established an ecosystem.