Online tool detects invasive species

by Jeff Helsdon | August 18, 2022
a snakehead
Snakeheads are just one of the many invasive species prohibited from sale.

Online technology is continuing to prove its worth for keeping invasive plants and animals at bay.

The Great Lakes Commission (GLC) started using a web crawler in 2016 that looks for invasive species for sale over the internet. Called the Great Lakes Detector of Invasive Aquatics in Trade (GLDIATR), the program searches for retailers based on state and provincial regulations. In doing so, it hopes to block one of the vectors for the introduction of invasive species — the intentional or unintentional release by individuals.

Marc Gaden of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission said government agencies work to pass legislation to stop the movement of invasives. One of the challenges though is the difference in regulations from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

GLDIATR scanned more than 300,000 web pages and identified 200 websites selling invasive species in a month, including 56 species that sales were restricted in the jurisdiction where they were sold. The owners were contacted and in many cases were unaware they were selling a product that could harm the environment.

A review published in January 2022 looked at third-party alternatives to the GLC’s original software. The review found the GLDIATR concept was valuable and either should be updated or replaced by a third-party alternative.

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