Interior Announces $4.1 Million to Fight the Brown Tree Snake on Guam

Source: US National Invasive Species Information Center

An additional $1.8 million in FY 2021 funds will be used to counter
other invasive species in the Insular Areas

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) has announced $4,095,922 million in Brown Tree Snake Control program fiscal year (FY) 2021 funding as administered through the Technical Assistance Program. An additional amount of $1,791,421 from Coral Reef and Natural Resources FY 2021 funds was also announced earlier this year for the purpose of controlling and mitigating other invasive species in the Insular Areas besides the brown tree snake.

“Islands are particularly vulnerable to invasive species that disrupt natural, long-standing biological processes and threaten our unique, island eco-systems,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary Keone Nakoa. “Each year, OIA provides significant funds to critical efforts seeking to help restore balance.”

The Brown Tree Snake Control program FY 2021 funding was divided among several governments and federal partners to include Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Hawai’i, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Department of the Interior as follows:

  • Guam Department of Agriculture for interdiction and control – $100,000
  • Guam Power Authority for BTS Data Collection – $70,389
  • CNMI Department of Lands and Natural Resources for interdiction and control – $407,950
  • Hawaii Department of Agriculture for interdiction and control – $288,706
  • USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Wildlife Services includes interdiction and control on Guam and Cocos Island – $1,205,590
  • USDA National Wildlife Research Center for research – $649,842
  • U.S. Geological Survey for research – $1,055,522
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for program coordination – $317,923

Coral Reef and Natural Resources fiscal year 2021 funding awarded to counter other invasive species beyond the Brown Tree Snake:

As announced previously, $1,541,421 in fiscal year 2021 funds was provided under the Coral Reef and Natural Resources to counter invasive species in the Insular Areas.

  • University of Guam for Invasive Species Detector Dog pilot program to include detection of the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle – $866,423
  • Micronesia Conservation Trust, a regional non-governmental organization, for the eradication, control, and management of invasive species in Kosrae, Chuuk, and Yap – $300,000
  • Island Conservation, a non-profit organization, for the removal of invasive rats in Mili Atoll, Marshall Islands – $299,838
  • CNMI Government for Sabana Pandanus Forest control and native trees restoration project – $75,160

An additional amount of $250,000 in emergency funding was also provided in fiscal year 2021 funding to help the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands control and mitigate the spread of the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle on Rota.

For more information about the Brown Tree Snake program watch this OIA Conversation on YouTube with Earl Campbell, Field Supervisor in Honolulu with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. A highlight of this conversation is also available on the podcast: There’s More to Islands … OIA Conversations.

For more information about OIA funds provided to counter invasive species visit: https://www.doi.gov/oia/coral-reef-and-natural-resources-initiative.

The Assistant Secretary of Insular and International Affairs and the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) carry out the Secretary of the Interior’s responsibilities for the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Additionally, OIA administers and oversees federal assistance under the Compacts of Free Association to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. OIA also administers a discretionary Technical Assistance Program for all the insular areas. Find information about OIA and its work on www.doi.gov/oia, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

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SCIENCEx Climate Change Webinars

Source: US National Invasive Species Information Center

Connecting Research with the Nation’s Forest and Grassland Managers

What: The SCIENCEx webinar series brings together scientists and land management experts from across U.S. Forest Service research stations and beyond to explore the latest science and best practices for addressing large natural resource challenges across the country.

These webinars will be primarily management focused, but with applicability for participants from across sectors. SCIENCEx will typically be organized as week-long webinar ‘blitzes’ around salient topics, allowing for deep-dives into subtopics or dynamics within specific geographies.

Sign up to receive the National USFS R&D Newsletter for updates on this series

Upcoming Webinars

SCIENCE x Climate Change

When: October 25-29, 2021 – 11-12 Pacific / 12-1 Mountain / 1-2 Central / 2-3 Eastern
Where: Join ZoomGov Meeting https://usfs.zoomgov.com/j/16104530612
Meeting ID: 161 0453 0612
Password: USFS1905!
Dial by your location
+1 669 254 5252 US (San Jose)
+1 646 828 7666 US (New York)
Find your local number: https://usfs.zoomgov.com/u/acwQqxhB7V

Schedule:

Monday, October 25: SCIENCE x Climate Change: Assessing our Future Forests

  • Resources Planning Act (RPA) Assessment: informing forest and grassland management, planning, and regional assessment, presented by Jennifer Costanza
  • Vulnerability assessment tools for setting priorities and identifying management targets, presented by Megan Friggens
  • Identifying climate change vulnerabilities and adaptation options for western U.S. national forests, presented by Jessica Halofsky and David L. Peterson

Tuesday, October 26: SCIENCE x Climate Change: Adapting to Future Conditions

  • The Wildlife Adaptation Menu: a new tool for wildlife managers, presented by Stephen Handler
  • Climate adaptive silviculture in an urban floodplain forest, presented by Leslie Brandt
  • The role of climate and landscape change context in shaping forest dynamics, presented by Kristen Emmett

Wednesday, October 27: SCIENCE x Climate Change: Modeling Tools for Management

  • Vegetation shifts with climate change: Applying the MC2 model, presented by John Kim
  • Incorporating future forest dynamics under climate change into landscape restoration planning: An application to the Central Sierras, presented by Nick Povak, Patricia Manley, Kristen Wilson
  • TACCIMO/FAMOUS – Connecting forest planning and operation with climate change challenges in the 21st Century, presented by Kelsey Bakken

Thursday, October 28: SCIENCE x Climate Change: Management and Planning Tools

  • Web-based tools for determining seed sources for reforestation and restoration for current and future climates, presented by Brad St. Clair
  • The California seed zone map and post-fire reforestation in a warmer future, presented by Jessica Wright
  • PhenoMap: Providing timely rangeland vegetation assessments in a changing climate, presented by Jacqueline Ott, Charlie Schrader-Patton, Nancy Grulke

Friday, October 29: SCIENCE x Climate Change: Shifting Life

  • Desired regeneration through assisted migration, presented by Dustin Bronson
  • Projected changes to an Arizona Sky Island are a harbinger of climate-fire effects on other western forests, presented by Kit O’Connor
  • Silvicultural strategies to improve post-fire reforestation success under climate change, presented by Chris Looney

SCIENCE x Socioeconomic Dimensions of Land Management

When: December 6-10, 2021 – 11-12 Pacific / 12-1 Mountain / 1-2 Central / 2-3 Eastern
Where: Join ZoomGov Meeting https://usfs.zoomgov.com/j/16104530612
Meeting ID: 161 0453 0612
Password: USFS1905!
Dial by your location
+1 669 254 5252 US (San Jose)
+1 646 828 7666 US (New York)
Find your local number: https://usfs.zoomgov.com/u/acwQqxhB7V

Schedule:

Monday, December 6: SCIENCE x Forest and Rangeland Livelihoods

  • Leveraging demand for renewable energy and innovative bioproducts to facilitate forest restoration, presented by Nate Anderson
  • What happened to wood products markets in 2020 and 2021 in the United States?, presented by Jeff Prestemon
  • Managing wolves and livestock on national forests in the West, presented by Susan Charnley

Tuesday, December 7: SCIENCE x Protecting Ecosystem Services

Wednesday, December 8: SCIENCE x Bounty Beneath Our Feet

  • Why is biochar so important?, presented by Debbie Page-Dumroese
  • Establishing pollinator habitat in log landings after timber sales begins with restoring the soil, presented by John Kabrick
  • Soil organic carbon, presented by Andy Coulter and Stephanie Connolly

Thursday, December 9: SCIENCE x Urban Interfaces

Friday, December 10: SCIENCE x Getting Outside

  • Managing winter recreation and sensitive species on Colorado’s public lands: Do humans and Canada lynx select the same habitat?, presented by Lucretia Olson
  • Considering the benefits of recreation in program reporting and decision-making, presented by Eric White
  • Latinix outdoor recreation, presented by Jose Sanchez

Past Webinars

SCIENCE x Post-Disturbance Restoration

When: April 5-9, 2021 – 11-12 Pacific / 12-1 Mountain / 1-2 Central / 2-3 Eastern
Where:  Adobe Connect link.

Schedule:

April 5: SCIENCE x Fire Disturbance (day 1) Recorded webinar link: https://usfs.adobeconnect.com/pw7bpaleg2eg/

  • Understanding Post Wildfire Management Effects on Stand Structure and Woody Fuel Loadings, presented by Morris Johnson
  • Where to Intervene in Wildfire-Altered Forests in California, presented by Jonathan Long
  • Fire-Catalyzed Forest Conversions: Causes, Consequences, and Potential Paths Forward, presented by Sean Parks

April 6: SCIENCE x Fire Disturbance (day 2) Recorded webinar link: https://usfs.adobeconnect.com/pc78l8uklfuq/

  • What Do We Do Now? Extending Forest Restoration to Post-Fire Management in Dry Coniferous Forests, presented by Dave W. Peterson
  • Fire Severity Prediction on the Stanislaus National Forest: Management Implications, presented by Stacy Drury
  • A Demonstration of the Climate Smart Restoration Tool, a User-Friendly Seed Transfer Mapping Tool for Current and Future Climates, presented by Bryce Richardson

April 7: SCIENCE x Flood Disturbance and Erosion Recorded webinar link: https://usfs.adobeconnect.com/pff9ff9jaiag/

  • Title TBD, presented by Keith Nislow
  • Dirt Goes Downhill: Predicting and Mitigating Watershed Response After Wildfires, presented by Peter R. Robichaud
  • Impacts of Floods on Forest Restoration and Conservation in the Southern U.S., presented by Ge Sun

April 8: SCIENCE x Insect Disturbance Recorded webinar link: https://usfs.adobeconnect.com/pyetvh2vxiox/

  • Forest Restoration Following Insect Disturbance in Southeastern Forests, presented by Chris Asaro
  • Near and Long-Term Southern Pine Beetle Outbreak Forecasts: Advances in Forest Science, presented by Steve McNulty
  • Bark Beetles in an Era of Megadisturbance: Reducing Impacts and Facilitating Recovery, presented by Jackson Audley

April 9: SCIENCE x Wind Disturbance Recorded webinar link: https://usfs.adobeconnect.com/pmail3kgjqme/

  • Microtopography and Tree Regen in Northern Hardwoods: Research Results and Ideas for Management, presented by Christel Kern
  • A Primer on Wind Disturbance in Southern Forests: Unanswered Questions and Management Considerations, presented by JT Vogt
  • Silver Linings Playbook: How Windthrow and Salvage Logging can Promote Biodiversity, presented by Alex Royo

Invasive Species Webinars

The Invasive Species Webinars, held February 22-26, 2021.

Fire x Fauna Webinars

The Fire x Fauna Webinars, held November 16-19, 2020, explored the effects of wildfire and prescribed fire on wildlife in the United States. Covering ecosystems and fire management practices across a wide range of geographies, speakers presented research and best practices for balancing wildlife conservation and forest management goals. Recorded webinars are available here.

MDARD Proposes Exterior Firewood Quarantine to Protect Michigan Trees and Forests from Invasive Species

Source: US National Invasive Species Information Center

Public comment on the proposal due by November 19, 2021

For immediate release: October 14, 2021
Program contact: Mike Bryan, 517-449-9435
Media contact: Jennifer Holton, 517-284-5724

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is proposing an Exterior Firewood Quarantine to prevent the introduction of unwanted plant pests and diseases into Michigan. Public comments on the proposal are due by Friday, November 19, 2021.

Over 140 pests and diseases can be moved by firewood, including Asian long-horned beetle, mountain pine beetle and spotted lanternfly. These pests are not known to exist in Michigan but could be accidently brought into the state by travelers transporting firewood.

“Harmful invasive species, some of which are invisible to the naked eye, can hide in or on firewood. While most cannot move too far on their own, these pests and diseases can be transported undetected on traveler’s firewood, starting new infestations in locations hundreds of miles away,” said Mike Philip, MDARD’s Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division Director. “These infestations can be devastating and pose a serious threat to Michigan’s agriculture, natural resources and the environment.”

It is difficult to eradicate a pest or disease once established, and management practices such as tree removal and reoccurring pesticide application can causes significant economic hardship for municipalities, counties, industry, and homeowners.

Under the proposed exterior firewood quarantine:

  • All firewood shipped into Michigan would have to be certified as heat treated at a temperature of 140 degrees F. (60 degrees C.) for at least 60 minutes.
  • Kiln-dried lumber and wood chips smaller than one inch would be exempt.
  • Logs or wood shipped from out of state sources directly to mills and other facilities for immediate processing would also be exempt.
  • Mills that sell or distribute slab wood as a byproduct of the operation where the wood came from out of state sources could do so under a compliance agreement with MDARD.

Members of the public interested in providing feedback on this proposed quarantine can submit their comments to Mike Bryan, MDARD Export and Compliance Specialist by emailing BryanM@Michigan.gov. The deadline for comments is Friday, November 19, 2021. Additional information is available at Michigan.gov/Invasives and on MDARD’s plant pest quarantine webpage.

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Expansion of Quarantine Areas for the Imported Fire Ant (Solenopis invicta Buren, S. richteri Forel, and hybrids of these species) in North Carolina and Tennessee

Source: US National Invasive Species Information Center

FOR INFORMATION AND ACTION
DA-2021-26
October 14, 2021

To: State and Territory Agricultural Regulatory Officials 

Effective immediately, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is issuing a Federal Order that expands the existing imported fire ant (IFA) quarantine areas in North Carolina and Tennessee. APHIS is taking this action to prevent the interstate spread of IFA. 

The following list describes the action in this Federal Order:

  • North Carolina: Extends the IFA quarantine area to the entire county for Alamance, Burke, Guilford, Jackson, and McDowell Counties.
  • Tennessee: Extends the IFA quarantine area to the entire county for Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Gibson, Grainger, Henry, Lauderdale, Montgomery, Putnam, Smith, Stewart, Sumner, Trousdale, and Weakley Counties. 

APHIS is taking these actions based upon verification from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Division of Consumer and Industry Services that IFA is present and established in the areas listed. 

For additional information on the Federal IFA regulatory program, please contact the IFA National Policy Manager, Herbert Bolton, at (301) 851-3594 or herbert.bolton@usda.gov.

Dr. Osama El-Lissy
Deputy Administrator
Plant Protection and Quarantine

Attachment: Federal Order

Additional Information


USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

Farms Animals Tested for COVID Suseptibility

Source: US National Invasive Species Information Center

  •  
  • Farm Animals Tested for COVID Susceptibility

Scientists and staff at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have been studying Covid-19 for over a year-and-a-half to ensure that America’s agricultural system is safe.

“ARS implemented emergency research in February 2020 in response to COVID-19 incursions in the United States,” said Cyril Gay, ARS senior national program leader for animal production and protection. “The aim of the research was to confirm that farm animals were not susceptible to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and remove potential concerns of farm animals becoming infected and transmitting the virus to people through direct contact or through agricultural products.”

ARS has laboratories and personnel dedicated to the research of especially dangerous pathogens, including emerging zoonotic agents such as SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19 is the term used for the disease, while SARS-CoV-2 is the acronym for the name of the viruses that causes COVID-19.

“ARS research clearly provided science-based evidence that eggs and live poultry, cattle, swine, and arthropods (mosquitoes, ticks, flies, fleas, spiders, etc.), were not able to replicate the virus and become a source of infection for people,” Gay said. Of all the farmed animals studied, only deer were susceptible to SARS-CoV-2. “Interestingly, deer did not get sick, but they quickly spread the virus to other deer.”

ARS included white tail deer in its investigation because the genetic sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus cell receptor closely aligns with the sequence of the human receptor, and because some white tail deer are farmed.

As the United States and the rest of the world reeled from the effects of a global pandemic, ARS researchers from the National Animal Disease Center, in Ames, IA; the National Poultry Research Center, in Athens, GA; and the Arthropod-Borne Animal Disease Research Unit, in Manhattan, KS, braved the then-unknown dangers of COVID-19. Researchers followed health and safety protocol guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure their safety as well as the safety of ARS support staff and collaborators.

ARS has a long history of implementing emergency research in response to disease outbreaks. Recent examples include the pandemic H1N1 in 2009 and a highly pathogenic avian influenza virus outbreak in 2014-2015. USDA is a key contributor to our nation’s National Biodefense Strategy, closely with public health agencies to effectively respond and mitigate emerging zoonotic pathogens that pose a threat to the health of people and farm animals.

“A critical aspect of our job is to respond rapidly and implement emergency research on a disease outbreak and quickly test or develop veterinary medical countermeasures to prevent and control the spread of the disease,” Gay said. “By mitigating the impact of diseases, we lower the threat it could cause to U.S. agriculture, our economy, and our citizens.”

– By Scott Elliott, ARS Office of Communications

Thank you for your feedback

Florida Eradicates Giant African Land Snail

Source: US National Invasive Species Information Center

Tallahassee, Fla. — This week, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Division of Plant Industry (DPI), along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), announced the eradication of the giant African land snail (GALS) from Broward and Miami-Dade counties. This eradication announcement marks only the second time this pest has been eradicated in the world, both in South Florida.

Click here to view and download video and photos from the event marking GALS eradication. You may also download the GALS media kit here and view GALS video/B-roll here.

For the past 11 years, the FDACS Division of Plant Industry has worked toward eradication through multiple rounds of visual surveys and inspections, K-9 detector dog surveys and inspections, manual collection and treatment programs. In total, 168,538 snails were collected from 32 core population areas comprised of thousands of properties.

This program has not just been a collaboration of the USDA and FDACS, but also the community. Over the years, multiple community and cultural groups, homeowners’ associations, green waste facilities, and homeowners themselves played strategic roles in disseminating the message of this invasive pest and the importance to report any sightings to the FDACS-DPI helpline. Because of this, 97 percent of the identified core population areas were reported by the public.

Richard Miranda, State Plant Health Director with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service noted that successful cooperation between State and Federal agencies and members of the public made it all possible.

“We are pleased to play a role in this collaborative success by sharing technical expertise, providing financial support, training detector K-9s that played a key role in finding the snails, and working with FDACS on survey and research efforts,” said Miranda. “Public involvement was also essential to this eradication, and we ask the public to remain vigilant by still keeping an eye out for the pest.”

The giant African land snail is a highly invasive agricultural pest, known to feed on over 500 varieties of plants. They also pose a risk to humans and animals by carrying rat lung worm, a parasite that can cause meningitis in humans.

Giant African land snail is a federally regulated pest and both the USDA and DPI will continue to remain vigilant in their commitments to safeguard American agriculture through surveys, early detection, and rapid response. The public should continue to watch for the snails and report suspects to the FDACS-DPI hotline at 1-888-397-1517.

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Invasive Green Crabs Spreading on US West Coast Despite Lack of Genetic Diversity

Source: US National Invasive Species Information Center

Research News

Invasive green crabs spreading on US West Coast despite lack of genetic diversity

Green crabs compete with native species, rip up eelgrass and eat small shellfish

Green crabs are spreading on the U.S. West Coast.

October 6, 2021

The green crab, Carcinus maenas, is a widely distributed invasive species that eventually alters its new environment. It’s assumed that such species have high genetic diversity, or a variety of characteristics allowing them to adapt and thrive. 

But the green crab has low genetic diversity, while still spreading rapidly in a new part of the world.

A U.S. National Science Foundation-funded study led by Carolyn Tepolot of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is investigating the adaptive mechanisms of the green crab along the west coast of North America, where it has shown extensive dispersal in the last decade despite minimal genetic diversity. 

The results are published in Molecular Ecology. The project is a collaboration among scientists at WHOI, Portland State University, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and the University of California, Davis.

“Invasive species like these are generally unwelcome,” Tepolt said. “Green crabs can compete with native species, rip up eelgrass ‘nurseries,’ and eat small shellfish before they have a chance to be harvested.” 

The study focuses on a Pacific Northwest population of green crab that has expanded in the last 35 years from a single source. Marine invasive species, such as green crabs, often spread across thousands of kilometers of ocean, spanning several ecosystems. 

Using six U.S. West Coast locations across more than 900 miles from central California to British Columbia, the team examined the species’ genetic structure. While this population has lost a large amount of overall genetic diversity relative to its European source, cold tolerance appears to be under strong genetic selection from north to south across its West Coast range, perhaps driving its expansion.

—  NSF Public Affairs, Researchnews@nsf.gov

Interior Office of Insular Affairs Announces Nearly $3 Million to Protect Coral Reefs and Combat Invasive Species in the Insular Areas

Source: US National Invasive Species Information Center

FY2021 funds invasive trees and rats removal, coral reef mapping for better management, and the Coral Reef Fellowship Program, among other priorities

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) has announced $2,772,443 in Coral Reef and Natural Resources Initiative (CRNR) grant funds to protect coral reef resources in the U.S. territories and the freely associated states. The funding includes $1,541,421 that will support efforts to control and eradicate invasive species in the insular areas.

“Supporting healthy coral reefs and protecting natural resources from invasive species are essential components to confront climate change effectively,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary Keone Nakoa. “Due to their island geographies and the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters, families in the U.S. territories and the freely associated states are particularly vulnerable to the existential threat of climate change. I am pleased to announce these FY 2021 funding awards, which help to address this priority for the Biden-Harris administration.”

Coral Reef and Natural Resources Initiative awards totaling $1,231,022 for fiscal year 2021 have been awarded as follows: 

  • Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) Government’s Coral Reef Initiative – $113,290
  • Ridge to Reefs, non-governmental organization, for decreasing land-based sources of pollution impacting the coral reef in American Samoa – $115,879
  • Nova Southeastern University Coral Reef Fellowship Program for the benefit of American Samoa, Guam, the CNMI, and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) – $210,000
  • Coral Reef Research Foundation, a Palau-based non-governmental organization, for mapping Palau’s lagoon and reefs – $212,329
  • U.S. VI coral restoration from Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease – $279,977
  • Guam Government’s Coral Reef Initiative – $299,547

Grants totaling $1,541,421 for fiscal year 2021 to combat invasive species have been awarded as follows:

  • University of Guam for research and related efforts to counter the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle – $866,423
  • Micronesia Conservation Trust, a regional non-governmental organization, for the eradication, control, and management of invasive species in Kosrae, Chuuk, and Yap – $300,000
  • Island Conservation, a non-profit organization, for the removal of invasive rats in Mili Atoll, Marshall Islands – $299,838
  • CNMI Government for Sabana Pandanus Forest control and native trees restoration project – $75,160

For more information about the Coral Reef and Natural Resources Program Initiative visit the OIA website at https://www.doi.gov/oia/financial-assistance.

The Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, @InsularAffairs, and the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) carry out the Secretary of the Interior’s responsibilities for the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Additionally, OIA administers and oversees federal assistance under the Compacts of Free Association to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. OIA also administers a Technical Assistance Program with funding provided by Congress for all the insular areas. Find OIA on www.doi.gov/oia. You can also follow and “like” OIA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or subscribe to the OIA YouTube Channel.

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Agriculture Secretary Applauds Research Efforts in Blocking Spread of African Swine Fever Virus

Source: US National Invasive Species Information Center

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30, 2021 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today applauded research and protection efforts underway at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to prevent the spread of African Swine Fever virus, which has been causing devastating losses to the swine industry across the globe.

“USDA agencies are working together to protect U.S. livestock from foreign and emerging animal diseases that could harm our economy and public health,” said Secretary Vilsack. “I am proud of the extraordinary research underway at the Agricultural Research Service to develop vaccine candidates to prevent African Swine Fever virus. In addition, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has done tremendous work to establish protection zones to safeguard the entire U.S. swine industry. Scientific research, discovery, surveillance and detection are critical to solving challenging problems that American producers face to keep our food supply robust and safe.”

African Swine Fever (ASF) was originally detected in 2007 in the Republic of Georgia and is known to cause virulent, deadly disease outbreaks in wild and domesticated swine. Since the original outbreak, ASF has had a widespread and lethal impact on swine herds in various countries in Eastern and Central Europe and throughout Asia. Although the virus is causing profound economic losses to the swine industry, there have not been any U.S. outbreaks. However, a few weeks ago ASF outbreaks were confirmed in the Dominican Republic, the first outbreak in the Americas in recent history. APHIS has vigilantly executed safeguards to prevent ASF from entering the United States. The virus is unable to transmit from pigs to humans.

The Agricultural Research Service published new research today, that highlights a new vaccine candidate that has been shown to prevent and effectively protect both European and Asian bred swine against the current circulating Asian strain of the virus.

Previous studies were done under laboratory conditions only in European bred pigs using an ASF virus sample from the initial outbreak. ARS’s new vaccine candidate studies revealed that immunity occurred in approximately one-third of swine by second week post-vaccination, with full protection in all swine achieved by the fourth week.

This research, highlighted in the journal Transboundary and Emerging Diseases, shows that ARS scientists have developed a vaccine candidate with the ability to be commercially produced while still maintaining its vaccine efficacy against Asian ASF virus strains when tested in both European and Asian swine breeds.

“We are excited that our team’s research has resulted in promising vaccine candidates that are able to prevent and protect different swine breeds against the current ASF virus,” said ARS Administrator Chavonda Jacobs-Young. “Vaccine candidates could play an important role in controlling the ongoing outbreak threatening global swine health.”

ARS researchers will continue to determine the safety and efficacy of the vaccine under commercial production conditions and are closely working with their commercial partner Navetco National Veterinary Joint Stock Company, located in Vietnam.

To date, ARS has successfully engineered and patented five ASF experimental vaccines and has fully executed seven licenses with pharmaceutical companies to develop the vaccines. ARS continues to evaluate additional commercial partners to develop these vaccines.

This is a major step for science and agriculture. A commercial vaccine for ASF virus will be an important part of controlling ASF in outbreak areas. All U.S. vaccine candidates have to go through the APHIS regulatory approval process for use in U.S. swine.

“The partnership between APHIS and ARS is critical in protecting U.S. animal agriculture from devastating diseases like ASF,” said Kevin Shea, APHIS Administrator. “ARS’s work in researching and developing vaccine candidates provides valuable tools to animal health organizations worldwide in combating ASF. APHIS is ready to evaluate potential ASF vaccines for use in the United States.”

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

Invasive Snakehead Caught in Canton, Massachusetts

Source: US National Invasive Species Information Center

On August 27, an angler caught a northern snakehead from Reservoir Pond in Canton. After obtaining and analyzing the specimen, MassWildlife confirmed this fish was a snakehead, an invasive species in Massachusetts. This fish was most likely released by a pet owner when it grew too large for its aquarium. Possession and liberation of snakeheads are both illegal in Massachusetts. Transferring exotic fish into local waterways can cause a host of problems, including competition with native species and spread of disease.

This recent catch is the fifth confirmed snakehead documented in Massachusetts since 2002. All snakeheads found in Massachusetts were adults, and MassWildlife has found no evidence of reproduction at any of the locations where the snakeheads were caught. During its routine fisheries sampling work, MassWildlife has visited over 7,900 locations statewide, documenting over 950,000 fish records since 1998 and has not captured any other snakeheads.

“While we are fortunate that snakeheads have not taken hold here in Massachusetts, this recent discovery highlights the need to focus on monitoring, education, and enforcement efforts to prevent the introductions of exotic species,” said Todd Richards, MassWildlife Assistant Director of Fisheries. Live fish may not be transported in Massachusetts without a permit, and liberation of all fish, including aquarium trade fish, into the wild in Massachusetts is prohibited without a permit from MassWildlife. Resource managers are concerned about the potential for snakeheads to reproduce and become established as a significant component of the fish community as a top predator, as they have in other states such as Maryland.  

Massachusetts anglers have played an important role in reporting snakeheads and other non-native species like piranha, pacu, and other escapees of the aquarium trade and illegal exotic introductions. Snakeheads will go after bait and lures, and with nearly 200,000 anglers out on the water, the fact that so few have been caught in the Commonwealth is reassuring.

Anglers may confuse snakeheads with other native species like bowfin (see image below for identification details). Anyone who captures a fish that can be confidently identified as a snakehead should keep the fish, kill it, and report it to MassWildlife by emailing mass.wildlife@mass.gov or calling (508) 389-6300. MassWildlife encourages anglers who are less certain about the species of fish they have caught to send photos showing various angles of the fish. Under no circumstance should a suspected snakehead be transported to another location until identification is confirmed.

Click here for a printable version of the snakehead identification poster.