By Melissa SchulerPosted May 19, 2018 03:02:02In a stunning move, Maine Wildlife Parks (MWP) has begun a long-term plan to eradicate the invasive species of invasive brown recluse from its waters and its lands.
The state is the first to enact a statewide plan to reduce brown recluses, the brown reclusing of Maine.
The plan is in response to a recent report by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that identified over 5,400 acres of wetlands as being in need of extensive restoration, a number that will increase dramatically if the species is eradicated from the state’s waterways.
“The [DEP] study identified that more than 400,000 acres of brown reclus have been removed from Maine’s wetlands since the mid-1990s,” the Maine Environmental Alliance wrote in a letter to the governor and the legislature.
“Maine has a population of over 40,000 brown reclusers, and nearly 60 percent of them have not been removed.”
The DEP’s report stated that brown reclused are one of the most widespread invasive species in the state.
It noted that, of the 7,300 acres that have been surveyed since 1991, nearly 1,200 have been found to be brown recluvers.
“The most widespread species in Maine’s waterways, brown recluss are native to Asia, South America, and Australia.
They were first identified in the western United States by the late 1800s,” it stated.
“These brown reclusters are a threat to wildlife, habitats, and native plants and animals alike.”
Maine officials have made clear that the brown recluses will not be allowed to return.
“Any resident who kills or removes a brown recluser will be subject to a $100 fine and/or a lifetime ban from the coast,” the state announced in 2016.
“As of 2020, there are no plans for eradication,” said Rachel Bledsoe, Maine’s assistant director of conservation.
“Our goal is to make the most of what remains, as best we can.
Our goal is not to eliminate the brown relays.
Our objective is to eliminate them as quickly as possible.
That means the population will have to be reduced.”
In Maine, the population has declined from 2,300 relays in 2001 to 1,000 relays today.
But that number has increased over the years, due to habitat destruction and a decline in migratory populations.
MWP is working to reduce its population by about 30 percent, but has not yet announced a specific target date.
The Maine Department is working with the Maine Fish and Wildlife Commission (MFWC) to study the potential effects of eradicating the species on fish and wildlife populations.
Maine officials also have the option of establishing a conservation zone on a small portion of the shoreline of the Maine National Seashore to prevent the spread of brown reverts.
“This is a great example of a collaborative effort to save our wildlife,” Bledsolee said.