Some invasive species can be toxic to humans: they can cause burns to our skin, painful bites and reactions, and in rare cases, death. Examples of such species include giant hogweed, poison hemlock, fire ants, and invasive hornets.
Giant hogweed sap on your skin reacts with sunlight, causing severe burns and blisters.
Poison hemlock, which looks similar to parsley or wild carrot, can kill a person (or a pet) when even a small amount has been eaten.
Invasive hornets, such as the Asian giant hornet, are aggressive invaders that can give painful stings. They can impact local honey-bee producers because they prey on other bee species.
Invasive species can impact our recreational opportunities on water and land. Examples include aquatic plants such as Eurasian watermilfoil, invasive fish such as the smallmouth bass, and an invasive terrestrial plant called puncturevine.
Eurasian watermilfoil forms dense mats that make boating difficult and swimming unpleasant.
Invasive fish species such as smallmouth bass can outcompete and consume native fish species that are desirable for fishing.
Puncturevine has sharp, prickly, seed pods that can painfully jab bare feet and pop bicycle tires.
Invasive species can impact native species that have cultural and spiritual significance to Indigenous communities. Impacts can vary, as different Indigenous communities have their own cultural and spiritual practices. Generally, invasive species can outcompete native plants used for foods and medicines and can displace plants that are foraged by wildlife such as deer and moose. Invasive plants can also overgrow or prevent access to culturally significant sites.
Please see the report below for more detailed information.
For thousands of years, Indigenous peoples and communities have survived as hunters and gatherers. To keep the land healthy, people took only what they needed during the spring, summer, and fall to survive the winter season. During these seasons, Indigenous people would gather berries and herbs, and hunt for small prey such as birds and fish and for larger animals such as moose, deer, or elk. Animal and plant species and populations were kept in abundance; the Indigenous peoples were excellent stewards of the land.
Some Indigenous communities did not need to travel to gather food; instead, they closely managed fish and edible plants found within their territories. Values related to respecting and caring for the land have been held for centuries and are still ingrained in Indigenous people and their communities. In all Indigenous communities, interest in the land extends past Indian reserve boundaries.
Indigenous world view is community oriented. In the past, each family would have an area where they hunted, fished, or harvested plants. The food would be shared or traded among the different families in a community. After the creation of the Indian Act, the different families were centralized on Indian reserve lands. These families continued their seasonal rounds and the practices of sharing. All of the Indigenous communities celebrate traditional practices, such as naming, births, and deaths with feasts. Indigenous communities usually are comprised of the different family groups that make decisions collaboratively through community planning sessions or by a Chief and Council.
Traditional foods and medicinal plants
Traditional Indigenous foods are being affected by the loss of biodiversity caused by invasive plants and other alien species. In 1998, the World Conservation Union declared invasive species to be the second largest threat to biodiversity on the planet, behind habitat loss. In BC, it is estimated that 25 % of endangered species, 31% of threatened species, and 16% of species of special concern are impacted by invasive alien species.
Traditionally, food was traded between Indigenous communities like today’s commodities as traditional foods and medicinal plants grow only in certain areas. The majority of the medicinal plants grow in riparian areas where these plants require clean water, little ground disturbance and shade from healthy trees. Indigenous people continue to rely on the traditional plants for their medicines.
Note: this section is based on information found in the document linked below:
Aboriginal Community Toolkit for Invasive Plant Management