Madrid, September 22 (EFE).- Hunting, fishing or the trade in pets are the main causes that expand the list of invasive alien species (IAS) and make their identification difficult since they are mostly unknown and many of its impacts are only local.

Theo Oberhuber, project coordinator for Ecologists in Action, told Efe that “many species of fish and shellfish have been introduced for the sake of hunting them and for which there is now significant economic activity around them”. .

Among these species, Oberhuber highlighted the catfish, the carp, the mosquito fish or even the American crayfish, which came to supplant and replace the native crayfish in most of the rivers and lakes of the Peninsula.

The mouflon is another case that also goes unnoticed in Spain, confused with the native ibex, although its origins are Asian, and it is currently the only species of big game on the island of Tenerife where it has been released at hunting purposes and began to colonize certain territories.

Currently, the mouflon threatens to displace the true mountain goat and the small native or endemic plants on which it feeds, since, as Oberhuber explained, “invasive species cause much more damage and are more dangerous on the islands” .

The Barbary sheep is a herbivorous bovid which also introduced hunting in the 1970s from the rocky areas of the Sahara or the Sahel and has now spread to certain mountain ranges in the south-west of the peninsula, such as those of Murcia, so that its population grew to compete for food with mountain goat, red deer and fallow deer.

Also noteworthy is the case of the Florida slide turtle which was subject to the pet trade and then abandoned in rivers or reservoirs.

The semi-aquatic characteristics of this turtle, the sale of which is illegal, have enabled it to adapt to wetlands, multiply, grow to a larger size and even displace its competitors, the native, leprous and Europeans.

Another notable case is the entry into Spain of the zebra mussel through trade in the Ebro basin and Mediterranean waters, where it causes economic damage by clogging many pipes and irrigation facilities, or the red weevil palm, which came from tropical Asia with the importation of palm trees on which it feeds.

Eucalyptus, native to regions with a subtropical climate, is another species imported because of its interest in the commercial exploitation of wood or paper which has an impact on the surrounding vegetation and is very present in the Basque Country or Cantabria, or the Argentine ant, an invader that came through the trade in packaging materials or imported plants.

Gardening is another of the entry routes for IAS that end up adapting and invading certain areas, as is the case with the “Pampa Duster”, a showy plant very present in parks and gardens, or with the “Rabo de gato”, a grass from northeast Africa that was introduced for ornamental purposes in the 1940s and grew so much in the Canary Islands that they came to colonize and expel some native species.

For Laura Moreno, head of WWF’s endangered species program, the problem with lists such as the “Catalogue of species cataloged as IAS in Spain” is that “they are not effective for prevention, since they do not prevent other species to develop their invasive potential.

On the contrary, it considers positive the lists included in the Action plan for the introduction and propagation of invasive species by the Ministry of Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (Miteco) and in the recent law on the protection, rights and animal welfare. .

According to Moreno, these lists are “a solution to combat the threat of trade in exotic species in sectors such as gardening or pets and to control the species of the Cites agreement”.

However, he insists that to create these lists, “expert groups are needed to assess which species are suitable and which are not from a health and conservation point of view”.

By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.