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NFC: Interesting article on exotics

>Study Shows U.S. Ecosystem Damage
>.c The Associated Press
>PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Scientists have long known that foreign plants and
>animals are damaging various parts of the U.S. ecosystem. They just didn't
>know it's costing the nation about $123 billion a year.
>A study by David Pimentel, an ecologist at Cornell University, estimates that
>alien weeds such as purple loosestrife are costing Americans $35.5 billion
>annually, insects like fire ants are costing $20 billion more and disease-
>causing organisms are costing $6.5 billion.
>The remaining economic costs are spread over causes ranging from rats and
>plant diseases to non-native fish.
>``It doesn't take many troublemakers to cause tremendous damage,'' Pimentel
>told The Oregonian in today's editions.
>Even animals as familiar as dogs and cats cause huge problems. The nation's 63
>million domestic cats and 30 million feral cats are estimated to kill about
>200 million birds each year -- birds that would otherwise eat many insect
>At an estimated $30 per pest-eating bird, that amounts to $6 billion in damage
>by cats alone.
>Dog bites send 800,000 people to emergency rooms annually, resulting in about
>$30 million in medical costs. Wild dogs running in packs in Florida, Texas and
>other states cause an estimated $10 million a year in livestock losses.
>Gypsy moths, elm disease, fire ants and zebra mussels also are among other
>damaging organisms listed in the study.
>The study confirmed what many Oregon ranchers, farmers and fishermen already
>In a state that stretches from ocean to desert, and relies on agriculture as
>its largest single industry, the threat from non-native plants and animals is
>The colorful loosestrife takes over native aquatic species in wetlands and
>along streams, removing hiding cover and food for birds and other animals.
>Cheatgrass on rangelands accelerates the spread and frequency of wildfires.
>Bullfrogs are killing off native turtle species, and the green crabs pose a
>threat to clams, oysters and Dungeness crabs.
>In addition to the economic costs, Pimentel said, nonindigenous species are
>responsible for more than 40 percent of the plants and animals that are on the
>nation's endangered or threatened list.
>Yet Pimentel points out that 98 percent of the nation's food supply comes from
>introduced species such as wheat, rice, domestic cattle and poultry. Those
>have a value of about $500 billion a year.
>Pimentel reported his findings Sunday at the annual meeting of the American
>Association for the Advancement of Science in Anaheim, Calif., where he urged
>policy-makers to devote more resources to the problem.
>``It's too late to send these organisms back,'' Pimentel said. ``We will be
>lucky to control further damage to natural and managed ecosystems.''
>AP-NY-01-25-99 0254EST
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