School Teachers Release Invasives

As many as 1,000 different non-native organisms used in the classroom are being released into the wild by school teachers.

Aug 9, 2012
Edyta Zielinska

A recent study presented at the Ecological Society of America found that school teachers who use live animals as teaching tools could be contributing to the invasive species problem in North America.

“Some of our schools—and the biological supply houses that provide their organisms—are creating a potential new pathway for non-native species to become invasive,” said author Sam Chan of Oregon State University in a press release.

The researchers surveyed more than 2,000 teachers in eight locations across the United States and Canada, and found that roughly 1,000 species were released by teachers. Indeed, many of the released plants and animals, including crayfish, amphibians, aquatic plants, and snails, are known invasive species.

One of the biggest problems, said Chan, is that teachers are evenly split on whether to euthanize the animals after the curriculum ends. He encourages teachers to consult local veterinarians, and to include native species rather than ordered plants and animals whenever possible.

“Many of the teachers were mortified when we pointed out they may be exacerbating the invasive species problem,” Chan said. “They want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”