Biologists Susan Pasko and Jason Goldberg discuss harvesting invaders in a new paper in Management of Biological Invasions. Incentive programs, such as bounties and encouraging recreational harvests, appear to be appropriate for certain species and regions. Among the many benefits is the development of an outreach program. “By engaging the public and encouraging harvest,” the authors write, “managers may . . . be able to identify where populations of invasive species are found and develop appropriate control and rapid response efforts.” The lottery program initiated by Maryland offered prizes to anglers who reported catching snakeheads, which assisted in assessing the spread of the invasive fish. No matter the species or the area, Goldberg insists that adaptive management–monitoring populations and program effectiveness–is key.
Commercial markets and incentive programs are likely to work when invasive populations are high, but once populations decline, the costs of harvest will increase. Efforts to reduce feral pigs in Australia showed that public interest in hunting declined with population size. Once a threshold is reached where the public no longer finds it profitable to harvest the species, traditional control measures and bounties may be more effective.
Read the paper here.