As hunting season gets underway, thousands of waterfowl hunters will load up their trucks and boats as they travel across the state of Wisconsin visiting lakes and wetlands. While many of us spend time on the water during the summer months looking for the next big catch, it is important to remember that waterfowl hunting activities can lead to the spread of aquatic invasive species just as easily as fishing and boating activities.
In 2016, the Wisconsin DNR interviewed waterfowl hunters about aquatic invasive species (AIS). Of those hunters interviewed, 92% of said they were aware of AIS. However, upon further discussion, 27% said they were unaware that the NR40 Prohibited Species list applied to waterfowl hunting. In addition, 30% did not know that their gear, not just their boats, could transport AIS (remember it is against the law to transport AIS).
Invasive plants and animals, like Phragmites, non-native cattails, and faucet snails, pose great risks to the health of our waterways, waterfowl, and economy. As people travel from one hunting location to another, these invasive species can be transported to new areas where they can be introduced and start a new population. AIS have been found on duck decoys, boats, hunting boots and waders, blind grass, anchors, buckets, and even blinds!
The good news – hunters can easily prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species by taking the following steps every time they enter and leave a hunting location:
- Inspect your boat, trailer and all equipment (including blinds and all decoys)
- Remove all attached plants or animals
- Drain all water from boats, motors, livewells and other equipment
By following these steps, hunters are able to help protect their favorite hunting locations for generations to come!
For more information visit www.WinnebagoWaterways.org or contact Chris Acy, Winnebago Waterways AIS Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (920)460-3674. Winnebago Waterways is a Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance program. The Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance is an independent nonprofit organization that identifies and advocates effective policies and actions that protect, restore, and sustain water resources in the Fox-Wolf River Basin.
Follow the Fox Wolf Watershed Alliance’s Winnebago Waterways Program on our Winnebago Waterways Facebook page or @WinnWaterways on Twitter! You can also sign-up for email updates at WinnebagoWaterways.org.
This article was written by Chris Acy, the AIS Coordinator for the Winnebago Waterways Program.