Invasive Species in Ohio: Pathways, Policies, and Costs
The ecologically diverse landscape of Ohio ranges from mountains to urban parks and from farm-side creeks to Lake Erie. However, the unique environment of Ohio, coupled with its central role as a commercial shipping and trucking hub of the United States situates the state to be extremely vulnerable to the introduction and spread of invasive species. There are about 800 non-native species in Ohio, of which dozens are harmful. Most of these are plants and fish. These pests increase stress on rare species and ecosystems. Economic impacts are also clear, with one invasive fish alone causing over $600 million in damage to recreational fishing in the Great Lakes.
In this report, Union of Concerned Scientists explains which invasive species have entered or are close to entering Ohio. We describe the ways that invasive species enter the state, and the economic, environmental, and human health impacts of these plants, animals, and diseases. Furthermore, we recommend both policy actions that can prevent further damage from invasive species in the state and the Great Lakes region.
Invasive species do not recognize political boundaries, therefore UCS calls for strong federal action to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species. Dramatically different federal policies are essential. Federal law should require that ships treat their ballast water before it is discharged – in order to eliminate the live organisms that are carried by accident. Industries that import live plants and animals – like nurseries and pet sellers – should not distribute live organisms before they are assessed for invasiveness.
Last Revised: 10/08/08