Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation  this week giving the departments of Environmental Conservation and of Agriculture and Markets the authority to regulate the sale, purchase, possession, introduction, importation and transport of invasive species. The new law, which takes effect early next year, also establishes penalties  for those who violate the rules.
Invasive species  threaten New York's environment by out-competing native species, diminishing biological diversity and changing whole ecosystems. Invasive species are widely available in commerce for landscaping and aquariums, and include plants like hydrilla  -- an aggressive aquatic invader that chokes out native plants, clogs water intakes and impedes recreation. Other invasive species are insects, like the Emerald Ash Borer and the Asian Long-Horned Beetle, which can devastate New York's timber and forest products industry.
The legislation was sponsored by Assembly Member Bob Sweeney , who chairs the Environmental Conservation Committee, and Sen. Betty Little .
The latter, who represents the Adirondack region in Northern New York State, said that once invasive species take hold, they are very difficult to eradicate. "This new comprehensive and proactive approach to educate the public, as well as hold those who are negligent accountable, will save taxpayers millions of dollars and protect the environment for future generations," she added.