A summit that could shape the future of invasive species policy in Montana will take place next week in Helena.
Stephanie Hester, coordinator for the Montana Invasive Species Council, says invasive species management in Montana spans the Departments of Agriculture, Livestock, Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and other organizations.
"With so many different agencies handling so many different types of species and disease, there hasn’t been a lot of coordination of those at a higher level."
This inaugural 2018 Invasive Species Summit is meant to remedy that problem. It’s based on a comprehensive review of federal, state, local and tribal laws all related to invasive species, and vetted through a variety of stakeholders.
Hester says invasives in the state range from aquatic species like zebra and quagga mussels, to weeds and plants, to feral hogs, which are rapidly nearing the state’s northern border from Canada. Invasive species have the capacity to devastate ecosystems and local economies.
Through a series of panels, Hester says the event will serve as a forum for determining the future of how Montana manages invasives, and could result in a broad-scale policy that helps unite the disparate parties involved.
"So really sort of the end game is to decide whether or not stakeholders, the public and agencies want to pursue developing a comprehensive Montana species act that addresses invasive species in an all-taxa way rather than species by species, or taxa by taxa," she says.
Hester says anyone interested in invasive species is welcome to attend the summit. It will take place November 15 and 16 at the Delta Hotels Helena Colonial in Helena.