A management plan for hydrilla control at Kerr Lake (Buggs Island) incorporates a “get tough” approach to those who intentionally introduce the fast-growing exotic plant. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of violators.
That’s because rangers and biologists suspect that anglers and waterfowl hunters are intentionally spreading the invasive.
“It is a crime to knowingly or unknowingly spread noxious and invasive vegetation like hydrilla,” said Mike Woman, project manager for the reservoir on the Virginia-North Carolina border.
He added that the notion that introducing the plant is a good idea is “short-sighted.”
Yes, hydrilla attracts bass and ducks, but it rarely can be contained or controlled. It smothers native plants, as it diminishes oxygen levels and water quality with its biomass. Additionally, recent research has revealed that it can play host to an alga that is deadly to waterfowl and predatory birds that eat them, including eagles.
Hydrilla coverage in the 50,000-acre fishery increased by 230 acres to 1,116 in 2014, puzzling biologists. But then a Corps staffer happened upon internet blogs that extolled the benefits of hydrilla for anglers and hunters. That discovery prompted the agency to conclude that a small number of misguided sportsmen are spreading the plant.
In addition to pursuing these violators, the Corps also has incorporated public education, herbicide application, and sterile grass carp into its strategy.
With assistance from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation, the agency stocked 13,320 carp during 2013. Another 4,200 were added in 2014, to make up for an estimated 30 percent mortality with the initial stocking and to address the increase in hydrilla.
The Corps also intends to plant colonies of native, beneficial plants. They will be started in cages to prevent predation by carp and turtles.
(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)