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Invasive Species Add Up to Big Losses for Washington

Invasive species could cost the state of Washington $1.3 billion a year if left unchecked.

January 17, 2017

Apple maggots infest apple, pear, and cherry orchards in some parts of the state, rendering significant numbers of fruit in those areas unsuitable for sale. Washington State Noxious Weed Control BoardInvasive species could cost the state of Washington $1.3 billion a year if left unchecked, a new study found.  

The two biggest culprits are scotch broom, a weed that’s toxic to cattle, and the apple maggot, which could wreak havoc not just on the state’s apple harvest but also on pears, plums and cherries.  

“I’ve seen firsthand the devastating effects on our economy, on our environment, and to our ability to recreate,” says Justin Bush, the executive coordinator of the Washington Invasive Species Council, which commissioned the report.  

More than 200 known invasive species are found in the state. The economic analysis focused on the top 23 species and looked at losses such as jobs, wages and business sales.  

The state currently spends $12.5 million a year trying to control and combat invasive species.  

“This is an issue that is larger than the professionals can deal with, and so what we’re asking is for citizens’ help,” Bush says.

People can help by controlling invasive plants on their property, reporting invasive species when they see them, and planting non-invasive plants in their gardens. 


Scotch broom, which is toxic to cattle, quickly forms dense stands that displace young trees and native plants. 

 Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board