Invasive species take root at Penticton Museum

Royal B.C. Museum brings Aliens Among Us exhibit to Penticton

Program co-ordinator Manda Maggs of the Penticton Museum looks over one of the displays that is part of the Royal B.C. Museum exhibit

Program co-ordinator Manda Maggs of the Penticton Museum looks over one of the displays that is part of the Royal B.C. Museum exhibit

The aliens are among us, but don’t cue up the X-Files theme music just yet.

A travelling Royal B.C. Museum exhibition on British Columbia’s invasive species, Aliens Among Us, runs until Nov. 17 at the Penticton Museum and Archives. Visitors are invited to interact with some of the province’s best-known and least-loved invasive species beginning Sept. 13 at the exhibit opening from 4 to 7 p.m.

“There are over 4,000 alien species in the province and that number grows each year,” said Gavin Hanke, curator of vertebrate zoology at the Royal B.C. Museum. “Some of these aliens are invasive — they spread quickly, threaten native wildlife and are hard to control.”

American bullfrogs, scotch broom, smallmouth bass and purple loosestrife are just a few of the species featured in Aliens Among Us. The exhibition tells the stories of how the invasive species arrived in the province, what individuals can do to protect their communities and how these aliens fit in — or don’t fit in — with their environments.

“Invasive species are of major concern in the South Okanagan as they pose a threat to the amazing biodiversity that we have here in the valley” said Penticton Museum curator Peter Ord. “This exhibit is part of the museum’s celebration of local natural history in 2012 and we are excited to host such a unique and topical exhibit from such a renowned institution like the Royal B.C. Museum.”

Co-hosting the opening will be the South Okanagan Naturalists’ Club and South Okanagan-Similkameen Invasive Plant Society, groups who have been instrumental in the fight against invasive species and the effort to protect endangered species and spaces.

“More importantly, the exhibit will allow locals to engage in our new museum program called Citizen Science, which is an effort to connect residents to the world around them,” said Ord.

Details of the Citizen Science program will be released during the official opening of the exhibit on Sept. 13, when visitors will also taste morsels of invasive species and wash it down with a glass of wine from Hillside Winery and food from the Bench Market.

A companion website and a mobile application have been created to accompany Aliens Among Us.  Both allow visitors to track species using Google Maps. Visitors can upload the location of an alien sighting, images and field notes. The website also offers the opportunity to ask questions of one of the Royal B.C. Museum curators or collection managers. You can access the web and mobile app at www.royalbcmuseum.bca.ca/TravellingExhibitions.

For more information on the Penticton Museum call 250-490-2451, visit www.pentictonmuseum.com or find them on Facebook.