Invasive and Non-native Animals

Invasive non-native animal species are considered as species that arrived from a different region or ecosystem to one that does not naturally support them, where they negatively impact the new ecosystem that they've been introduced to. These species become introduced through human activity, both by accidental and purposeful transference. Below is a list of a few invasive animal species that reside in or near the Park. The C&O Canal is actively taking measures to control, maintain, and prevent further spread of these species through various actions.
Northern Snakehead with teeth exposed
The Northern Snakehead

NPS/Ryan Hagerty

Northern Snakehead (Channa argus)

The Northern Snakehead is an invasive species of fish, originating from Eastern Asia. This particular species of fish has a voracious appetite, which makes its presence very detrimental to native fish populations. Northern Snakeheads can also tolerate a wide range of habitat conditions, which gives them a competitive advantage over native fish species. Currently, the C&O Canal is partnering with Maryland Fish and Wildlife in order to try to control the current population of Northern Snakeheads within the Park. If this species is caught while fishing within the Park, it is encouraged to remove them by not throwing them back.
Emerald Ash Borer
Emerald Ash Borer

NPS/David Cappaert

Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis)

One of the largest threats by invasive animals within the U.S. is that of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), which originates from Eastern Asia. The EAB lays eggs within the bark of all species of ash trees, allowing the larva to eat their way through the inner bark of the tree. This cuts through its intake system, which causes it to slowly deteriorate due to its inability to transport nutrients properly. Other signs of an EAB infested ash tree include D-shaped exit holes within the bark from emerging of fully-grown adults and peeled off layers of bark from woodpeckers trying to eat the larva. EAB can quickly spread through different areas by moving firewood from different parks, as its larva can stay dormant within dead wood. The C&O Canal strongly asks all of its visitors not to take any plant material from the Park, so the spread of EAB and other invasive species is not facilitated.

Last updated: August 4, 2016

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