The following article is an aquatic followup to “How to Handle Invasive Plants in Your Local Environment”.
Once an invasive species has entered a fishery or any other body of water, it is very difficult to eradicate. Luckily, you may have options. In the instance of the Eurasian Water-Milfoil, it is best to remove a new colony as soon as it is spotted. Pulling up the plants by hand can be very effective. It is the most controlled way to remove unwanted wildlife while attempting to preserve as many native plants as possible.
Photo via Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
However, when a colony has gone unchecked for a length of time, it will grow prolifically, making hand-pulling almost impossible. At this point, a controlling body such as the Department of Natural Resources or the Department of Fish and Wildlife (depending on your state) may deem other control mechanisms necessary. Those may include mechanical harvesting, screening the bottom, and raking, which are all effective means by which to combat the spread of invasive plant species. Whole-lake herbicides are not often used due to their propensity to disrupt the lake’s entire ecosystem.
Eurasian Water-Milfoil is but one invasive species that threatens bodies of water. Some invasives are plants and others are animals. But the biggest common denominator is the human being. We can unknowingly transport Eurasian Water-Milfoil, Zebra Mussels, Spiny Water Fleas, and many others.
Photo by Dennis Jarvis.
In the case of the Spiny Water Flea, the invader is so minute that a normal angler or boater may not even see it in their tackle, or clinging to a crevice in the boat. These little tag-alongs, though, can be killed by allowing everything that has touched one body of water to dry completely for at least seven days before using the same tackle, rod and reel, or even your boat, in another body of water.
We, as humans, are really the only line of defense in stopping the spread of invasive species. Education is key. Here are several tips that will help anglers and boaters to stop the spread of invasive species:
Photo by Philip (southbeachcars on Flickr).
1) When using live bait, do not release any purchased live bait, or live bait from any other body of water, into the body of water on which you have been fishing.
2) Check your boat and trailer thoroughly. Make sure there are no weeds hanging from your boat, trailer, or even your tow vehicle.
3) Drain the water from your livewell and/or bait-well. Empty any minnow buckets, etc, that have been submerged in the lake.
4) Rinse off all of your equipment with hot water. If possible, high-pressure wash your boat and trailer. This will ensure that you blast off any invaders that may be hitching a ride with you to the next lake.
5) When in doubt, allow your boat, trailer, and ALL equipment to dry completely for at least seven days before entering any other body of water.
Photo by Hefin Owen.
Overall, education is key where invasive species are involved. Many anglers and boaters do not understand how the delicate ecosystem of their favorite fishery or body of water can be so easily upset, simply by people not understanding how invasive species spread. Once an invasive species is found in your lake, it is best to get the word out to friends and neighbors. Learn as much as possible about the particular invader involved, and take steps to educate others in the ways to prevent the spread of these invasive species. Also, contact your controlling body (DNR or Department of Fish and Wildlife) to let them know of your discovery. The information you receive from them will go a long way in helping you and your neighbors to control the spread of unwanted invasives in your lake. — Posted by Mark Contorno.
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