Preventing the introduction of invasive species
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Why are invasive species a problem?
Today, invasive species (organisms that have been introduced into areas where they are not native) are considered to be among the most severe agents of habitat alteration and degradation. They are a major factor in the continuing loss of biological diversity throughout the world. They have caused extinction of some native species. Invasive species can be thought of as "biological pollutants."
Moving plants or animals, accidentally or intentionally, from one habitat into another where they have never been before is risky business. In the absence of predators, parasites, pathogens, and competitors from their native habitat, species introduced under favorable conditions will often overrun their new home and crowd out important native species. Once established, invasives are difficult to eliminate.
To protect your lake
There are many BMPs you can adopt as an individual to minimize the spread of aquatic invasive plants and animals:
- Learn what these organisms look like and monitor for their presence. If you suspect a new infestation of an invasive plant or animal, report it to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Invasive Species Program.
- Consult the DNR for recommendations and permits before you try to control or eradicate an invasive pest. Remember, invasive species thrive on disturbance. Do-it-yourself control treatments often make matters worse and can harm native species.
- Organize educational campaigns and committees. Your lake association or civic group could also undertake an educational campaign in your area. Contact the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center to find out how you can become an AIS detector or tracker.
- Conduct public awareness events at water accesses (at DNR accesses, notify the DNR before planning an activity).
- Don't transport water, animals, or plants from one lake or river to another. In Minnesota, it is illegal to transport surface water, aquatic plants, or invasive species.
- Remove plants and animals from your boat, trailer, and accessory equipment (anchors, centerboards, trailer hitch, wheels, rollers, cables, and axles) before leaving the water access area.
- Drain your livewell, bait bucket, and bilge water before leaving the water access area.
- Empty your bait bucket on land, never into the water. Never dip your bait bucket into one lake if it has water in it from another. And, never dump live bait from one water body into another.
- Wash your boat, tackle, downrigger cables, and trailer with hot water. Flush hot water (at least 104·F) through your motor's cooling system and other boat parts that normally get wet. If possible, spray your boat, trailer, and accessories with hot, high pressure water. Let everything dry for five days before transporting your boat to another body of water (both hot water and drying will kill zebra mussels).
Species of concern
Aquatic invasive species that are causing particular concern in Minnesota today are shown below. Other invasives of concern are the common carp, sea lamprey, rusty crayfish, white perch, flowering rush, and curly leaf pondweed. Species are not drawn in correct proportion to each other.
Don Luce, Bell Museaum of Natural History
Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha)
Size: 1/4 to 2 inches
Eurasian Water Milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum)
Leaflet: 1/2 life size
Eurasian Ruffe (Gymnocephalus cernuus)
Size: 2 to 5 inches
Round Goby (Neogobius melanostomus)
Size: 2 to 12 inches
Don Luce, Bell Museum of Natural History
Spiny Water Flea (Bythotrephes cederstroemi)
Size: 3/8 inch
Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)
Size: 2 to 7 feet
For more information
- Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center
- Minnesota Sea Grant's Aquatic Invasive Species Information
- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources