Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Letter to Santa from the State of Oregon

Dear Santa,

I’m sure you’re surprised to receive this letter from me. I know you are awfully busy this time of year. There are a lot of people that are hurting and who could use your help more than ever. I have been blessed with many gifts already, so it is with considerable reluctance that I write to you.

I wouldn’t bother you at all except that I’m worried. I’m worried that tiny insects, mussels, and seeds will travel here unnoticed as hitchhikers in all the hustle and bustle. Trade and travel is so common, so fast, and so global in this modern age that non-native species arrive at an astonishing pace.

Just this week live minute pirate bugs were found in Portland associated with a shipment of computer parts from Asia. No doubt they were hitchhiking on the wooden packing material. Pallets and crates are often made out of low-quality, insect-infested wood. Minute pirate bugs are predators of other tiny insects. They are unlikely to become pests, however, their arrival and subsequent release into the environment is an example how easy it is for hitchhiking plants and animals to move around the world. I’m worried that people aren’t aware or don’t care enough to change their behavior to leave the hitchhikers behind.

Could you please reward people that clean the mud off their boots and vehicles? Something special for fishers that take the time to clean their boats between launches and never release non-native baitfish would be nice. A new pair of waders without felt soles would be appropriate. Extra goodies are in order for people who buy and burn local firewood and for nurserymen and women who don’t import nursery stock.

People that release pets and aquarium fish into the environment deserve a lump of coal. Ditto for travelers that smuggle fruits, vegetables, plants, animals, and other contraband. Maybe a reminder from you that these actions guarantee their place on your naughty list would reinforce how harmful this can be.

Please reward the teachers and students who are learning about our environment and how to keep it clean and healthy. Anyone that reports a sighting of a potential new invader deserves a big thank you. Don’t forget the inspectors and state and federal employees that work hard to protect my environment from gypsy moths, quagga mussels, Patterson’s curse and other weeds and pests. They don’t get a lot of credit and their budgets are being cut at the same time the invasive species threats are on the rise.

Santa, on second thought, you’ve got your hands full making children happy this Christmas. That’s enough. The good news for me is that people are creating these problems with invasive species and people can fix them. My people are the best and they’ll do the right thing if they know what it is. Thanks for helping me get the word out, thanks for all the gifts and goodies, and . . . Oh, one more thing, clean your boots and reindeer hooves before you land. Merry Christmas!


State of Oregon
Submitted by Dan Hilburn


  1. Nice :) As an invasive weed specialist and biologist, I have found that non native plants are almost everywhere and a problem for all Oregonians. They choke waterways, erode banks, and out-compete natives for light, water, and nutrients. They are an economic disaster when they invade with millions of dollars spent just trying to control. Check out this report prepared by OSU researchers for the Oregon invasive species council.