Winnebago Waterways joins DNR and other conservation partners for Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Waterfowl Hunters Opening Day Campaign
Over this past weekend, the Winnebago Waterways Program at Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance partnered with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and other conservation partners for the annual Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Waterfowl Hunters Opening Day campaign. This campaign is designed to help spread the word about protecting native habitats from AIS. While many folks have seen Clean Boats, Clean Waters personnel at boat launches over the summer, the DNR wanted to continue education about stopping the spread of AIS by reaching out to waterfowl hunters. Waterfowl hunters in the Winnebago System have been incredible partners in restoring and improving wetland habitats. By ensuring that AIS are not being transported into or out of the Winnebago System, we are continuing to protect hunting traditions for generations to come.
In addition to boating gear, waterfowl hunters use decoys, dogs, and push poles that may harbor AIS such as zebra mussels, starry stonewart, and Faucet snails. Faucet snails can be especially problematic for waterfowl as they often carry a parasite that is transferred to waterfowl when they eat the snails. The parasite can then kill the birds, which has resulted in massive bird deaths in the Upper Mississippi. Hunting blinds have also been found to be made of phragmites, an invasive plant that can clog waterways and crowd out other plants that are beneficial for geese and ducks.
- Inspect waders, boats, trailers, motors and hunting equipment, including boots, blinds and dogs.
- Remove all plants, animals and mud.
- Drain all water from decoys, boats, motors, livewells and other hunting equipment.
- Never move plants or live fish away from a water body.
To share this message with hunters, our AIS Coordinator, Chris Acy, was out at Richter Lane boat launch on Lake Poygan on September 30th, the opening day for waterfowl hunting in the south zone of the state. Many other partners and DNR employees were at other popular hunting locations around the state both on September 30th and September 23rd (the opening day for the north zone). Many of the hunters that Chris talked with were aware of the Wisconsin state laws about cleaning off their boats and were thankful for the reminder to check their other equipment.
One hunter said, “I never though about my dog or her collar being able to spread invasive species before. I will have to check her coat and check under her collar for any AIS.” As part of the Opening Days campaign, Chris was handing out geese bands to hunters with the Inspect, Remove, Drain messaging imprinted on the band.
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.