Permission for biocontrol releases
Even if you design and build the most beautiful biocontrol setup to raise the healthiest beetles with the biggest appetites for purple loosestrife and are all set to unleash your beetles to wreak havoc on the purple loosestrife all around you, your efforts will be in vain if you don’t have the appropriate permission to do your project. It is illegal in quite a few states to translocate invasive species and the design of a beetle rearing project definitely involves moving an invasive species out of and putting it back in to the field. No matter your good intentions, breaking the law will add several layers of complications that you don’t need for your beetle project.
On top of the legality of moving the plants, moving and releasing the beetles will often require permission as well. For our project, we were able to request and obtain a permit from the West Virginia Department of Agriculture to take purple loosestrife root crowns from an infested site, pot them, and rear beetles collected from a former release site, eventually releasing the new beetle generation into other known infestations of purple loosestrife. It was a simple process that merely required we tell them where we collected the species (both plants and beetles), and ensure we record via GPS and photograph where we released the beetles. It is usually best to incorporate some long-term monitoring of release sites as well, even if it’s just an annual visit to see how your beetle population is faring.
We have also obtained permission for where the beetles will be released to do invasive species removal work. You could run into issues with trespassing and some very confused and unhappy landowners if you don’t explain a project beforehand; it would be odd for anyone to show up with a lot of insects and release them on your property without telling you about it beforehand. I have encountered very, very few landowners who are not perfectly happy to have a free service of invasive removal, as long as they are told beforehand. Receiving permission to do the releases is also important because it will alert people who might have sprayed their loosestrife after you set out your beetles; all your hard work could go down the drain without good communication.
A simple outreach effort can create strong relationships with the community and unite people against invasive species, and a poor outreach effort can result in a long uphill climb back to good standing within your community. Having the support of your community is always worthwhile!