Can we ask observers to pull invasive species?

Hi, I don’t know if this is the right format to ask this question, but as an identifier I am in an unique position to see invasive species in their nascent stages. I am specifically referring to Cardamine impatiens or narrow-leaved bittercrest. Is it alright for me to add in a comment when confirming the identification, to pull it out the next time you see it? It is easy to pull from the ground without the use of garden tools. I feel it might be feasible to stall the spread of this unwanted plant.

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Even though those are dangerous invasive weeds I think iNat is not a place for that, users can later misid another, native, plant or just start pulling out everything they see as weed because they were told that’s ok to do, it’s better to contact someone who officially can visit the spot and kill off the population.

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Thanks, I definitely agree.

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yup. sometimes folks who don’t know any better can end up accidentally spreading invasives, too, and it’s better that managers of a location know of problem plants so that they can monitor the location, too, if needed.

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Yes, I agree - I frequently see people who post an “invasive” plant they pulled up and killed, and it was actually one of the native species - many people are very bad at distinguishing plants that (to me, at least!) look nothing alike at all.

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I identify moths, and have seen my share of invasive species in Canada. I do identify them, but iNat lets everyone know it is not native.
I don’t add a note, but if it is a newly (or highly damaging) invasive species, it’s better to add more information than not. Communication counts!

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I haven’t thought about asking this specific question on inat, but if you’re asking if you can make a recommendation to observers in general, doing so is typically fine although best to indicate is just an optional recommendation or opinion. In this specific case, the additional considerations people mentioned like correct identification would also be relevant.

There are a bunch of invasive projects - sometimes inviting or making someone aware of a project is enough to spur their interest in learning about it.

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No thanks. Comment threads will turn into “kill it!”/“pull it!” fests, and there will be a to and fro between those who want to make things as they think they should be, and those who want to observe nature as it actually is (not to mention the people stuck in the middle wishing both sides would shut the hell up.)

I have experienced this on a pretty large NZ FB invert ID page I helped to admin a few years ago. Things got so ridiculous that we had to make and enforce (with an insta-ban) a “no kill comments” rule. It became somewhat tedious.

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If it’s a serious issue, you could encourage them to contact a state department or post relevant links to info about the organism. However, I wouldn’t make any recommendations unless you know a lot about the context.

For instance, if you IDed something as an invasive and the observer asked “This is in my yard, should I pull it out?”, I think it’s fair to give your recommendation.

I would refrain from giving a recommendation in most cases though since on many public lands killing/removing any organisms (even invasive ones) isn’t allowed as well as issues others have highlighted.

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So many good replies. I do agree that INaturalist is not the place to advocate removal of plants, invasive or not. Thanks everyone.

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fwiw I’ve had the dedicated employees of VA reach out to me about invasives I’ve documented – so even documentation alone is helpful, and folks are doing outreach. i’ve also been better lately about using the “invasive? yes” tag when I’m confident of an ID and context. (i am moderately good at identifying at least some invasives, and do try to pull them after documenting when I’m confident it’s the right thing to do.)

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I don’t think it’s unreasonable to add a note like that, especially for relatively new invaders.

On the flipside of this, I often try to ID invasive on our own land, and had for example never seen a Princess Tree (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/93544358) and I yet I thought I found one mostly thanks to computer vision ID and subsequent looking into that species; I still waited quite a few months for someone to come along and confirm it who happened to be a user I had just made contact with about native tree things I’d like to do; they also knew how to properly get it out.

So just because it isn’t probably good to recommend invasive removal for all the reasons mentioned, that tag on iNat is quite obvious at least on web version (all I use), and sometimes I find some random things I had no clue so it still hooks us all in with people who do know for sure and gets them destroyed correctly if that’s a good idea :)

In some countries, such as the UK, it is illegal to pull any plant without the permission of the landowner.

I pull what I know.
And use an iNat project to report the thugs.
https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/alien-early-detection-rapid-response-s-afr

Place me firmly in the middle! Those kind of debates are never ending, and never productive.

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Slightly unrelated but slightly related. A few weeks back I saw a post with a Common Myna, the caption stated it was invasive. It was a recently fledged baby bird and he was gripping it in his fist in a tight manner. I hope the birds was released and not killed.

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Related: The ethics of removing invasive plants

In my region Oncosiphon pilulifer (Globe Chamomile), also called Stinknet, maybe to encorage disdain? Is one invasive I see a lot of. I worry that by pulling it, especially when dry (as shown in my observation) that I might spread the seeds.

I’m not currently aware/convinced of how effective pulling out a handful of invasives in my area and wonder at what point an invasive just gets considered naturalized.

I am aware of the problems with There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly approach to invasives control, though… see: Rhinella marina (Can Toad) in Australia: Introduction and spread.

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Many counties in the US have a Noxious Weed Board (or some equivalent). You could always just forward the obs to them?

If you ever see anything in Chelan or Douglas County in Washington state in the US, I work for the Chelan Douglas Land Trust and my job is literally removing as many invasive plants as possible (in addition to planting natives in restoration areas), so feel free to send them my way :kissing_heart:

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