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KUNC is among the founding partners of the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration of public media stations that serve the Western states of Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Western Governors Want To Know More About Thistles, Hogs And Something Called ‘Rock Snot’

Matt Lavin
Leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula) is number eight on the Western Governors' Association list of most problematic terrestrial invasive species.

According to the Western Governors Association, species like the Canada thistle and common carp aren’t just nuisances -- they’re a matter of western biosecurity.

“The spread of invasive species continues to be one of the biggest environmental challenges facing the western governors, as well as the entire country,” said David Ige, the governor of Hawaii and chair of the Western Governors’ Association.

The group is launching an effort to combine information on invasive infestations on land and in waterways, information they say has largely remained within state boundaries until now.

“If you’re wondering why this is such an important issue to focus on, a major part of invasive species management in the West is knowing what species are there, where there are infestations and where there are not,” said Bill Whitacre, a policy advisor with WGA. “Knowing what’s on the other side of the fence is hugely important.”

They’ll also host workshops around the region in the coming months, including in Montana and Wyoming, on topics like “early detection and rapid response” to invasion by unwanted plants and animals.

The group compiled a list of the top 50 invasive species in the region. On land, it includes a tree called salt cedar, a few kinds of thistle, a bird called the European starling, wild hogs and a fungus known to kill bats. In the water, it includes a handful of aquatic plants, four types of carp and some slimy algae called “rock snot.”

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado. 

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