The Web page is designed to provide specific information and images about exotic animals, plants and other organisms in Illinois. To learn more about what exotic species are, how they are dispersed, how they differ from invasive species, controlling invasive species and stopping their spread, please see the May 2016 issue of Kids for Conservation®.
Terminology is important in the study of exotic species. The words can be confusing when you first encounter them. You should become familiar with the following definitions before continuing.
exotic species - In Illinois an exotic species is defined as one that was not present at the time when settlers from Europe began to arrive in the land that is now our state. They are also known as nonnative species or nonindigenous species.
nonnative species - Organisms introduced into habitats where they are not native are called exotic or nonnative species. They are also known as nonindigenous species and alien species.
invasive species - An invasive species is one that is not native to a particular ecosystem and that does or is likely to cause harm to the environment and/or the economy.
– Under the Lacey Act (18 U.S.C. 42), the U.S. Secretary of the Interior is authorized to regulate the importation and transport of species, including offspring and eggs, determined to be injurious to the health and welfare of humans, the interests of agriculture, horticulture or forestry and the welfare and survival of wildlife resources of the U.S. wild mammals, wild birds, fish, mollusks, crustaceans, amphibians and reptiles are the only organisms that can be added to the injurious wildlife list. Species listed as injurious may not be imported or transported between States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or any territory or possession of the U.S. by any means without a permit issued by the Service. In Illinois, these harmful species include, but are not limited to: bighead carp, black carp, Eurasian ruffe, rudd, round goby, rusty crayfish, silver carp, snakehead, tubenose goby, walking catfish, zebra mussel, Brazilian elodea, Hydrilla, Eurasian watermilfoil and the quagga mussel. You can learn more about injurious species at http://www.fws.gov/injuriouswildlife/
nuisance species – Aquatic nuisance species are nonindigenous aquatic species that pose significant ecological and economic threats to aquatic ecosystems. These species can include fishes, aquatic plants, algae, invertebrates, mussels, viruses and other aquatic pathogens. Nuisance species and nuisance wildlife do not mean the same thing. “Nusiance wildlife” refers to a single animal that is destructive or menacing. The animal may be damaging property such as buildings, crops, pets, livestock, gardens or parks or may threaten human health or safety by spreading disease, by direct attacks or accidentally. It may also cause collisions with cars, airplanes or trains.