Exotic versus Invasive Species

Let’s start with what native species are so we can get that portion out of the way. Native species are those that are indigenous to an area. These are white-tailed deer, mule deer, desert bighorn sheep and pronghorn antelope, for example. Now that we know what native species are, we can dive deeper into exotics and invasive species. We can remove native hoof stock from our conversation moving forward.

Exotic, or non-native, species are animals that live outside of their natural habitat either through natural process or human activity. Exotics, and most non-natives, are harmless to our ecosystem. Exotics include aoudad sheep, axis deer, sika deer, fallow deer, blackbuck antelope and nilgai antelope. Soybeans and petunias are actually non-native species, but they cause no harm to our ecosystem, so there’s no need for a mass removal, right?

Invasive species are the opposite. They do cause harm to our ecosystems. They destroy our lakes, forests, agriculture and even economy. Invasive species include wild boars, feral goats and even house cats and field mice. We’ve all seen the public awareness campaign with billboards about cleaning your boat after water use to prevent the spread of zebra mussels. These little animals are causing massive economic, recreational and environmental impacts on Texas lakes.

Missouri Department of Conservation

According to The Nature Conservancy, “invasive species have contributed directly to the decline of 42% of the threatened and endangered species in the United States. The annual cost to the United States economy is estimated at $120 billion a year, with over 100 million acres (an area roughly the size of California) suffering from invasive plant infestations.”

The point to take away here is that exotic animals are simply new neighbors that have moved in next door. Invasive species move in, don’t keep up their landscaping, play loud music and make the neighbors miserable.