Effective April 1, 2023: the Departments of Lands and Environment and Natural Resources have merged into one.

Invasive alien species

Alien and Invasive Species

Alien species are plants, animals, and other organisms that are introduced to a new area by humans intentionally or by accident. Some are very small and can spread alarmingly fast when people accidentally carry them to new locations on their boats, cars, footwear, gear or firewood.

Are all alien species a problem?

Some alien species are benign, or even beneficial. Some non-native species like pin-cherry trees, rhubarb plants, carrots and potatoes, for instance, are alien to the NWT but do not pose a big threat.

When species have a negative impact they become Invasive Species.

Invasive species compete and can harm native species, change ecosystems and destroy habitat. If not properly managed, invasive species may result in the reduction or disappearance of native animal, plant and insect species, and negatively affect our environment, economy, waterways, wildlife and communities.

Examples of invasive species that pose a threat and are not beneficial to the NWT:

Mountain Pine Beetle

  • Colonizes mature pine trees by boring through the bark, laying eggs and eventually killing the tree.
  • During an outbreak, spreads easily from tree to tree threatening millions of hectares of forests.
  • Over 40 million hectares of pine forests have been affected in BC and western Alberta since the 1990s.

White Sweet Clover

  • Originally from Europe and Asia, now found in Canada and the NWT.
  • Takes over natural habitats and crowds out the native plants.
  • Spreads along roadways and attract wildlife, which raises the chances of collisions between vehicles and animals.

Wild Pigs

  • Cause billions of dollars in damage annually across North America by destroying crops, killing native vegetation, threatening local wildlife, and degrading water quality.
  • Easily adapt to new environments and reproduce very fast, making them highly invasive.

Zebra and Quagga Mussels

  • Originally from Europe and Asia, now found in Canada.
  • Small in size, but can cause significant damage to our water ways and fish.
  • Multiply quickly and are virtually impossible to remove once they are here.

What can I do to help protect the NWT from invasive species?

  • Clean, drain, and dry your watercraft and gear after each use on the water. 
  • Remove mud, plants, and insects from your vehicle and gear, including outdoor footwear, between trips.
  • Buy firewood at or near where you will use it.
  • Never release aquarium pets, water garden plants, live food (example: fish, crabs, mollusks) or live bait into rivers, streams, lakes, ponds or storm sewers.
  • Only buy or sell non-invasive plants for your gardening and landscaping and dispose of unwanted plants/plant material properly.
  • Use weed-free soil, hay, straw, mulch and certified seeds for reclamation projects. Research the source and species list in your seed mix or consider not seeding at all.
  • Learn how to identify invasive species and report when you see them.

Report alien and invasive species to your local Environment and Climate Change office or send an email to wildlifeobs@gov.nt.ca. Include a photo and as many details as you can gather that are helpful.

Invasive species have been identified as one of the top five direct drivers of global biodiversity loss by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) in its Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (2019).

You can track where known alien and invasive plants are found in the NWT using the GNWT /  Alaska Exotic Plants Information Clearinghouse (AKEPIC) through the AKEPIC Data mapping portal.