The National Park Service strives to preserve natural resources at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, including the native plants and animals. Non-native species are those which occupy lands as a result of the deliberate or accidental activities of people. Non-native species often alter ecological processes, disrupting food chains and nutrient cycles by out-competing native organisms in their own habitat. Diverse native plant communities which provide food and cover for a variety wildlife can be rapidly replaced by a dominant non-native weed which provides neither food nor cover for native animals.
Not all non-native plants present the same degree of threat to native plants and animals. Those capable of rapid spread are often called invasive weeds. Those with serious economic impacts are designated as noxious weeds. Noxious weeds affecting Craters of the Moon include spotted and diffuse knapweeds, leafy spurge, Canada thistle, and Rush skeleton weed. Non-native invasive weeds a significant threat to the remaining pristine vegetation communities within the monument. Management of noxious weed infestations through prevention of new introductions and by control or elimination of existing infestations is a high priority resource issue for the National Park Service at Craters of the Moon.
Several non-native birds make their homes at Craters. Some species such as Chukar or Gray Partridge may not have a significant impact on native species. Others can be a serious problem for native species. These problems range from Rock Doves which can change the nutrient levels in caves to Starlings and English Sparrows, which evict native birds from their nests. Craters is working with neighboring agencies and landowners to identify, locate, control and where feasible eradicate non-native species that threaten our natural resources. The issue of non-native species is likely to receive continued attention at Craters and around the world for many years to come.