Among the greatest ecological challenges facing New River Gorge National River is the presence and threat of invasive species. Invasive species are those which do not naturally occur in a specific area and cause ecological and economic damage. The majority of invasive species are also exotic, or non-indigenous but some native species can become invasive too (i.e. deer in some areas). Many different organisms can become invasive pests including plants, vertebrates, invertebrates, fungi, and microorganisms. Exotic invasive species can be introduced purposely or accidentally. An intentional introduction could be a plant from Asia that is planted ornamentally in gardens and escapes. An accidental introduction could occur with contaminated containers shipped from overseas. Exotic invasive pests are successful in establishing populations on alien turf because their natural predators (disease, herbivore/carnivores) do not exist in the new territory and therefore can out-compete native species for resources. Invasive species can eliminate their native counterparts or destroy whole populations if gone unchecked.
For more information about invasive species in our national parks, visit the National Park Service Invasive Species page.
Click on the links below to learn more about some of the invasive species that we are dealing with at New River Gorge National River and what our staff is doing to get rid of them.