By Kelli Saunders (with editing for style)
We tend to hear more and more concern about invasive species, but what are they and how can we help prevent their spread? An invasive species is one that is not native to a specific location (an introduced species), and that has a tendency to spread to a degree believed to cause damage to the environment, economy or human health. Our watershed is vulnerable to introductions of non-native species, aquatic ones in particular, due to its proximity to other water systems and its popularity as a tourist destination. There are a wide variety of aquatic invasive species in our basin and nearby basins. These invasives impact our aquatic ecosystems by competing with native species for resources, such as food and habitat, and can destroy native fish spawning habitats. They are highly successful because they tend to not have any natural predators, they are highly adaptable, they reproduce very quickly and they thrive in disturbed systems. Various species of invertebrates have invaded waters through pathways that include recreational boating, bait bucket release, etc.
So….what can we do as boaters, anglers, resort owners or float plane operators to help prevent these invasions?
Did you know that if you put your boat in a lake that’s infested with an aquatic invasive species, you can threaten the health of the next lake you put your boat into if you don’t take precautions? This is one of the key vectors for the spread of invasives, but there are simple steps each of us can take to minimize the impact. Whether you are a recreational boater, an avid angler/tournament participant, a float-plane operator, a waterfowl hunter or a resort/campground owner, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind…simply, remember “Clean Drain Dry”:
For more information go to; https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/ais/index.html
If you see an aquatic invasive species, take a photo, note your location, and report it to your local invasive species organization to help prevent their spread!
Kelli Saunders, M.Sc., is the International Watershed Coordinator with the Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation.
PO Box 493
Ely, MN 55731
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