The balance of nature has been out of kilter for hundreds of years – basically, since man has interfered to make things better. In many cases, some species have been introduced to an area where they are not indigenous to solve a problem “naturally,” without resorting to pesticides or culling of another species.
An example is the cane toad in Australia. It was brought into the country to deal with the cane beetle in the sugar cane fields. Unfortunately the cane toad is now the bigger problem.
Rabbits, too, were introduced there, and have multiplied as only rabbits can, making their population unmanageable.
The green crab has been transported in ships’ ballasts and has upset the marine ecosystems wherever it has established itself.
Zebra mussels are also an invasive species transported by ships.
Feral swine (also called wild pigs, Eurasian boar, or feral hogs) destroy agricultural fields and impact the regeneration of forests by eating the seeds, nuts, and cones of trees. The swine are omnivorous and so are a threat to young livestock. They can do tremendous damage to the agricultural industry. Feral swine carry at least 30 types of diseases and 40 types of parasites. They are really bad news!
Burmese pythons have been introduced to Florida’s Everglades through the pet trade and have upset the balance of nature there. They prey on rabbits, foxes, raccoons, and birds, to name a few. Many populations of smaller mammals have been decimated. The Burmese python has also brought a pentastome parasitic disease, infecting other reptiles. The parasite is now considered to be endemic in Florida.
So you see that introduced species can be quite detrimental to their new habitat.
While trout fishing on a local lake recently, the Captain encountered a new invasive species, the freshwater crocodile. It is pictured here, photo taken with the Captain’s little point-and-click Fuji camera. It is a bit blurry because he was shaking with fear, and paddling with one hand while he risked his life to take the photo with the other.
If you ever find yourself tempted to swim in a freshwater lake in British Columbia, be aware that these newly introduced crocodiles could appear from the depths to nibble on their favourite delicacy, swimmers’ toes.