LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - Hundreds of people gathered at the La Crosse Center, on Tuesday, to talk about invasive species. It was part of a three day conference geared at improving management of invasive species both on land and in the water.
The Upper Midwest Invasive Species conference was as much about invasive species as it was about protecting our natural places. Some exhibits discussed newly introduced species, while others focused on foreign life that has been here for hundreds of years.
But no matter what the species, or if it was in our lakes, forests, or grasslands, one topic was the same, combating these foreign invaders and restoring the natural habitats in our communities.
"It just depresses me when people say ‘it's all too late,'" Peter Sorensen, Professor of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology at the University of Minnesota said. "You know, it's not too late. I mean, there's a lot of, believe me, you don't want to think of how many things haven't occurred here. And how much damage could be done. It's definitely not too late… That's one of the messages, how to move forward with this. It's part of our lives now, we just have to move forward with it and do the best we can. And there'll be difficult compromises I'm sure. But that's life."
Sorensen said there's no simple answer to dealing with invasive species, but one thing is sure, scientists cannot tackle this issue on their own. An educated and involved community is key to minimizing the impacts of non-indigenousness species on our environment.
"Be thoughtful about it, just the way you would with your own medical care," Sorensen said. "Ecosystems are complex, expensive, there're choices to be made. And I don't think it's any simpler dealing with an ecosystem with invasives than it would be an oncologist dealing with cancer in your body. You'd want to see a few people, you'd want a long term plan, a few treatments. You might want somebody to fix it on the spot, but you know it can't happen."
Removing invasive species is a complicated process that can take years to achieve. Sorensen said one way communities can combat this problem is by designing long-term plans to eradicate non-native pests and protect the natural environment.
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