Invasive Alien Species in Alberta
Invasive alien species or invasive species are non-native species that have been introduced, intentionally or unintentionally,
from other countries or ecosystems and threaten Alberta’s ecosystems and biodiversity.
Other effects can include:
- Foul odours
- Impacts on the economy and recreation
Invasive alien species are also characterized by their ability to reproduce and spread rapidly because they often have no
natural predators, or are so well-adapted and aggressive that their populations out compete native species. Worldwide, invasive
alien species are considered the second greatest threat to biodiversity after habitat destruction. Invasive alien species
are plants that are commonly referred to as noxious weeds, prohibited noxious weeds, aquatic weeds, invasive plants and
Government, academics, industry, stewardship groups and the public all have a role to play in increasing awareness about
invasive species. These sectors must work together to prevent invasive species from establishing and spreading.
The Alberta government is responsible for the key role of control work; however, it is also taking other actions on invasive
- Developing educational materials about what invasive species are and their impacts
- Identifying the public’s role in helping with solutions
- Working with stakeholder groups to coordinate control efforts
- Enhancing legislation, regulations and risk assessment tools
This collaborative approach to invasive species management aims to improve awareness and preparedness, enhance communication
and coordination, and improve resource allocation to decrease the risk of invasive species in Alberta.
Frequently Asked Questions about Invasive Species
What are the impacts of invasive alien species?
- Degrading or eliminating habitat
- Reducing native species populations by out-competing them for resources
- Reducing biodiversity
- Introducing foreign diseases or parasites into an ecosystem
- Reducing the yield of agricultural producers
- Causing trade restrictions or barriers
- Increasing public health care costs
- Causing high pest control costs
- Increasing financial burdens caused by control measures
- Nnegatively affecting property values
- Clogging or damaging irrigation equipment
- Impacting tourism
- Causing health problems or physical discomfort such as allergies
- Reducing recreation opportunities
- Reducing the aesthetics of the landscape
- Creating foul odours
- Displacing desired species of traditional value
How do invasive alien species become established in new areas?
- Transport on equipment: Soil on construction equipment often transports invasive seeds into new areas.
Aquatic invasive species can be transported on boating and fishing equipment. Airplanes, trucks and ships that carry goods
and materials can move invasive species from around the world to Alberta.
- Nursery plants: Plants sold in garden centres can be invasive themselves, have other hitch-hiking plants,
or have insects on the plant or in the accompanying soil. Invasive plants have also been found in wildflower seed packages.
- Hitch-hiking on goods: Goods such as commercial seed, hay, forest products with bark, and solid-wood
packing material such as crates and pallets are materials often used by hitch-hiking invasive species to enter an area.
What are some examples of invasive species?
Invasive alien species include plants, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians, shellfish, insects, fungi and bacteria.
- Rock snot algae or “Didymo” (short for Didymosphenia geminata) attaches itself to rocks, plants and other submerged surfaces
in rivers and streams. The gooey algae grow rapidly, covering the stream bed and attracting aquatic insects, which burrow
themselves deep into the algae. This reduces the quality of spawning habitat and the amount of food available to fish, which
also affects their ability to spawn.
- Goldfish have been released into Alberta’s waters by the public. They occur, and have been known to reproduce, in municipal
garden ponds and have been found in natural waters. This member of the carp family poses a significant ecological risk.
No aquarium plants or animals should be released into waterways.
- Zebra and quagga mussels have moved rapidly across North America and now are found in states close to the Alberta border.
These mussels have significant impacts on aquatic ecosystems and cause extensive fouling problems on irrigation and water
- Oxeye daisy is a classic white daisy that invades pastures and natural areas, reducing plant species diversity and hay
or forage production. It is unpalatable for livestock or wildlife, giving it a competitive advantage and can give an off-flavour
to milk if cattle graze on it.
- Yellow clematis is a spreading vine plant with yellow, pendant flowers. It is aggressive once established, displacing
native flora and increasing fire hazard. Yellow clematis is moving into mountain parks.
Himalayan balsam is a garden ornamental introduced in the 19th century. It grows rapidly, out competes native vegetation
and often dominates vegetation stands in riparian area.
- Wild boar were brought to Alberta in the 1990s as a specialty livestock, but some have escaped from farms and have adapted
well to Alberta’s rough terrain and cold winters. They eat crops and dig large holes on farmland.
Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) is a fungal disease of cereal crops that affects kernel development. This disease spreads easily
via wind and through transportation of infected crop residue or seeds. Fusarium has been found in the irrigated regions
of southern Alberta and has potential to spread to all other parts of the province.
Examples of invasive alien species:
What is the Alberta government doing to prevent the introduction & spread of invasive alien species?
All sectors can use the Alberta Invasive Alien Species Risk Management Framework and Risk Assessment Tool to identify existing
and potential invasive alien species and their effects, assign a management authority and outline management options:
Invasive Alien Species Management Framework and Risk Assessment Tool
Provincial Legislation – Weed Control
Weed Control Act
Used for invasive plant control and enforced by local municipalities. This Act over-rides any other legislation dealing
with invasive plants.
The Weed Control Act, Weed Regulation
Lists plant species and their seed that are designated as either prohibited noxious or noxious weeds.
Provincial Legislation – Other Related Acts
Agricultural Pests Act
Allows the Minister to declare animals, plants, birds, insects or diseases to be "pests" and to eradicate them or prevent
- Code of Practice for
Details the safe handling, use and application of pesticides to ensure environmental protection. Section 11 deals with Forest
Management Pesticide use and Section 12 involves Industrial Vegetation Management.
Fisheries (Alberta) Act, Regulation
Controls the import of fish eggs and live fish.
Forest and Prairie Protection Act
Section 28 regulates forest pest control.
- Forest Act- Timber Management
Sections 164.1 (1) (2) and (3) describe importation of logs or other forest products into Alberta that may carry insects
Public Lands Act
Lists the duties of the land-holder with regard to seed and weeds.
- Wildlife Act
Controls the possession, import and export of wildlife. The Wildlife Regulation prohibits import, export and possession
of wildlife without a permit.
- Canada Plant Protection
Designed to prevent the import, export or spread of pests that can injure plants or their by-products, or have potential
to do so. Section 6(1) and 7(1) and (2) deals with import and export.
- Canada Seeds Act
Regulates inspection, testing, quality and sale of seeds in Canada.
City of Calgary
City of Edmonton
City of St. Albert
For additional website resources about Invasive Species, see:
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Updated: Jul 11, 2011