Illegal Marijuana Crops Are Threatening Native Species in the US

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Marijuana: A survey published on Wednesday (1) in the scientific journal PLOS One brought an unexpected consequence of the cultivation of cannabis, the marijuana plant, after its recreational use was approved by 16 American states.

According to ecologists, illegal weed farms are spreading along the west coast of the US, encroaching on the habitat of three native species, due to the uncontrolled use of pesticides and diversion of natural water sources.

The threat was initially detected by the Integral Ecology Research Center in Blue Lake, a small town in California. Co-founder of the organization and one of the authors of the research, Greta Wengert, explained that the warning signal was turned on when mammals the size of cats, called minkfish (Pekania pennanti), began to die from poisoning by rat poisons.

Suspecting that the poison could originate from illegal cannabis farms, Wengert and his colleagues developed a model where the dangerous coexistence between illegal producers and three species of threatened predators could occur: in addition to the aforementioned marten, also a subspecies called humboldt marten (Martes caurina humboldtensis) and the Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis caurina).

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