island conservation invasive species

DIY Biosecurity: 5 Ways To Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species

Invasive species are damaging to ecosystems, agriculture, economies, and human health. Follow these simple rules to help prevent the spread of invasive species.

1. Check Your Hiking Gear for Invasive Species

A simple walk through the local park trail or hike in the nearby nature reserve could mark the beginning of a non-native species introduction. The moment you brush past a plant, or set down your pack in a meadow, you’ve invited seeds to cling on to your belongings. During your next vacation to an island paradise, you hit the hiking trails and inadvertently disperse the seeds, spreading invasive species into the native ecosystem. Brush organic material off of your clothes and gear after each outdoor excursion, or at least before you head to the airport for your next vacation.

island conservation invasive species shoes

Socks, shoes, and clothes can harbor seeds of weeds. Credit: Anette Duboise

2. Love Your Pet Fish

A pet fish may seem like a really great idea on day one. But the maintenance required to keep them healthy can become too much of a time or energy investment after a while. It might be tempting to free your goldfish into local water systems, but this will prove disastrous for the goldfish and the native ecosystem. Many invasive marine species have been traced back to releases of pets into the wild. Only adopt a pet fish if you are confident you can take care of it for the entirety of its life. If you can no longer care for your fish, find a trusted friend or family member who is willing to take over the responsibility. And remember, never release pets to the wild.

island conservation invasive species goldfish

Pet fish in home aquarium. Credit: Anita Hart

3. Don’t Move Firewood

Firewood is commonly made out of dead or dying trees. These trees may have hosted pests, such as the emerald ash borer. Moving firewood from one place to another can spread invasive species. Support local firewood providers and don’t move firewood to new areas. The native trees will thank you.

island conservation invasive species firewood

Firewood can contain pests. Credit: Christoph

4. Go Fishing…With Native Bait

Fishing bait may include invasive species, including worms and fish. Seek out native bait anytime you go fishing. Never dump bait into the water at the end of a fishing session.


You can take care of your local waterways by selecting native bait when you go fishing. Credit: Willy Lee

5. Care for Your Feline Companion

Invasive feral cats are a major contributor to native species decline. By spaying or neutering your cat, you will prevent unintended pregnancies leading to the rise of feral cats in your area.


Learn more ways to prevent spread of invasive species: Cool Green Science
Featured photo: Trail shoes. Credit: Ashley P.

About Sara Kaiser

Sara received a BA in anthropology from UC Santa Cruz in 2014. As a freelance writer and editor, she seeks to produce and highlight stories that support ecological responsibility, body awareness, emotional intelligence, and creative action, and reveal the connections between them.

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