The financial impacts of invasive species in the Great Lakes region could be felt for years to come.
A study from the University of Notre Dame and University of Wyoming estimates invasive species will cost Great Lakes states $200 million a year. Dr. Phil Moy with the UW Sea Grant Institute says those numbers may be a little conservative. He says officials in Wisconsin have come up with numbers close to that just for the effects of zebra mussels on water intake pipes.
Areas expected to take heavy losses include industries that rely on Great Lakes water and even recreational businesses. For example, Moy says some invasives can destroy the food supply of large sport fish, which can cause the bigger fish to die off. Some fishing communities are already beginning to experience these trends.
Moy says the financial impacts could grow in the coming years as well, as the 84 known invasive species become more established. He says it can take decades for a new species to gain a foothold in the Great Lakes and for it to become clear how it may disrupt the ecosystem.
Moy says it could take sometime before the full financial impacts of all species are known.