Hi, I'm a Nutria

This is the introduction from a recent New York Times op-ed video of the same title. The video is pithy, entertaining and well-animated. It's the story of nutria, who, as the narrator lets you know, are just like scenesters and other undesirable people who migrated to the Pacific Northwest. The point is seemingly, "I'm invasive, just like the people who moved here, but I'm okay - just think of me like a sea otter (scenester?)!"

While I've never been a big fan of animal eradication programs, this video seems to lack a clear message on invasive species, smacking more of locals' disdain for newcomers. It's more playful than the Davis et al paper from last summer, but is clearly picking some low-hanging fruit. The kind of fruit that conjures up statements from lots of folks like, "invasive species aren't all that bad...you can't control dandelions...the birds like the blackberry..." and so on and so forth.

I prefer to think of letting some invaders go as an organization or society saying, "we have bigger fish to fry." Knotweed in forested watersheds is more problematic than reed canarygrass in rangeland systems. Feral cats and pigs on the Hawaiian island chain need taken out before we worry about lesser pests. In a reality of limited resources, invasive species triage makes more sense than ever. Which battles can agencies win based on a species' existing populations, geographic extent, reproductive capacity and available resources?

Not a nutria, Lake Washington, 2009.
On a more positive note, as a former UW student who spent plenty of time at the Union Bay Natural Area, the Washington Park Arboretum, and in Union Bay, I can appreciate what's left of the Lake Washington Ecosystem, and the plant and animal species that populate it. Sure there are plenty of invasive plants and animals in this novel ecosystem - hell I've even written about some of them - but it's a great place within city limits to get away from the grind and enjoy some backyard greenspace...plus the bass fishing in the Arboretum isn't half bad when you have a cheap UW canoe rental. Just ignore the weeds around the edges, they've only been there as long as you Midwestern transplants and Californians...

Still not a nutria, Lake Washington, 2008.

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