Just about every popular article talking about invasive species management uses the same tiresome clichés of wars and battles. It was cute once, but it has gotten old.
Worse still, these clichés are now threatening to bite us in the bum.
OK, I admit that I used the lame War on Weeds terminology myself; it was early in my career in invasive species management, and I thought I was being cleverly ironic. I even used to refer to my boss as a Weed Czar, and myself as a Czardine. Har! Har har!
But what happened to the great War on Drugs, War on Crime, War on Terror, etc.? They did not end up being the best icons for success, did they?
But worse than this — way worse — is that the wartime terminology is dosed with hostility and xenophobia.
We declare war on tamarisk and battle against zebra mussel. And as a result of this charged language, we are starting to lose the support from important constituents who could be allies. We risk marginalizing the very real impacts of invasive species as merely hysterical fears of xenophobic extremists or genetic purists.
I have better things to do than to defend myself from charges that I’m acting like a Nazi!
(Image: Invasive crayfish species found in the Potomac River. Credit: Mark Godfrey/TNC.)