Full Title Name:  Brief Summary of Invasive Species and Animal Welfare

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Cassandra Burdyshaw Place of Publication:  Michigan State University College of Law Publish Year:  2011 Primary Citation:  Animal Legal & Historical Center

This brief summary introduces the concept of invasive species and the federal and state laws that address their control. It also briefly explores the potential animal welfare issues that arise in dealing with invasive species.

An invasive species is a species not originally from a particular ecosystem. These animals move into an ecosystem and cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health. For example, invasive species such as zebra mussels and brown tree snakes shut down electrical utilities and caused power outages. Invading sea lampreys caused the collapse of lake trout and other Great Lakes fisheries.

Invasive Species introduced into the United States from around the globe affect plant and animal communities on our farms, ranches and coasts; and in our parks, waters, forests, and backyards. Invasive species are often unintended hitchhikers on cargo ships and other vehicles. Still more species are deliberately introduced as pets, ornamental plants, crops, food, for recreation, or pest control purposes. Invasive species are estimated to do billions of dollars of damage in the United States each year.

In 1999, President Clinton recognized that invasive species are a serious threat when he signed an executive order creating a committee to address the threat. Several federal laws help the government to work to stop the spread of invasive species. Many states have laws that also address invasive species. Some of these laws may allow people to kill invasive animals.

Invasive species are a concern to the economy and native ecosystems, but methods used to get rid of invasive species raise animal welfare concerns. No current methods in controlling and killing invasive animals are entirely successful and many cause stress, trauma and suffering for the animals involved. Balancing the need to manage invasive species and the welfare of individual animals can be difficult.


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