Biological supply houses sell equipment and materials to schools for use in science experiments and other classroom applications. These companies may provide a wide range of plant and animal species, sold singly or in science kits as part of a curriculum package. These species may or may not be native to Washington and are not labeled typically as being non-native, and there aren’t always instructions for proper disposal or handling. After classroom use, these species often are released into the wild by classes or taken home by students as pets (and potentially released later).
This may be a pathway for introducing a variety of species, such as invasive crayfish or variable-leaf milfoil. Researchers surveying lakes in the Puget Sound region found that the invasive red swamp crayfish (P. clarkia) had invaded a number of lakes, which were clustered near schools that use crayfish in their science programs.
If you are a teacher, concerned student or parent, you can help prevent the spread of invasive species by working with your school to eliminate the use of invasive species or encourage their proper disposal.
For more information, see the following Web sites: