Invasive Species Management Programs in Alaska: A Survey of Statewide Expenditures, 2007–11
Invasive species have already reduced biodiversity, damaged the environment, threatened human health, and created economic losses worldwide. Alaska, by contrast, had relatively few invasive species for most of the 20th century. But increased population and development in recent years have brought an influx of non-native species. However, the problem remains in its infancy, and Alaska still has the opportunity to take advantage of cost-effective management, given appropriate coordination among government agencies and private groups. To help improve such coordination and increase public understanding about this issue, the authors collected data on spending to manage invasive species in Alaska between 2007 and 2011. Such spending increased from $4.7 million in 2007 to $6.9 million in 2010, and it totaled $29 million over the entire study period. Federal agencies paid 84% of that total, non-profits paid 9%, the State of Alaska paid 5%, local governments paid 2%, and private donors paid less than 1%. Most spending (79%) targeted invasive terrestrial plants and animals, but spending for invasive marine and freshwater organisms increased over the period. The largest individual expenses were for eradicating Norway rats that were killing bird populations on an Aleutian island ($5 million), northern pike that were eating juvenile salmon in lakes of Southcentral Alaska ($2.7 million), and European rabbits that were destroying bird habitat in southwestern Alaska ($0.8 million). Overall, research accounted for 24%, monitoring for 20%, eradication for 20%, administration and planning for 11%, and other spending for 25% of total expenditures. The number of jobs in managing invasive species increased over the study period, as did volunteer efforts, which may suggest increasing public awareness about this issue in Alaska.