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Entries in invasive species (187)

Friday
Mar282014

Mapping the Invasion

This screen shot shows zebra and quagga mussel invasion as of 2006.

Nature Conservancy has produced some great interactive maps showing how invasive aquatic species have spread out across the country from their point of introduction.

Featured species include bighead and silver carp, zebra and quagga mussels, Eurasian ruffe, round goby, sea lamprey, and black carp.

Also, in late 2012, the organization released a report saying that aquatic invasive species “cost businesses and consumer in the Great Lakes region hundreds of millions of dollars annually in direct costs and even more from indirect costs related to removal, maintenance, and management of those species.

“Meanwhile, state and federal governments are currently forced to spend additional millions as they attempt to control the impacts and prevent the spread of AIS (aquatic invasive species).”

According to the report, the largest industry affected by AIS in the Great Lakes is tourism and recreation, which is responsible for employing more than 90,000 people in the region, generating $30.3 billion annually in revenue. Costs range from monitoring and controlling AIS to lost revenue from beach closings affecting hotels, restaurants and other tourism-related businesses.

Wednesday
Mar262014

Third Carp Species Also Threatens Great Lakes

Activist Angler caught this 30-pound-plus grass carp in a lake that has been damaged by illegal stocking of this exotic species. Photo by Robert Montgomery.

When people talk about Asian carp threatening the Great Lakes and its fisheries, they typically are referring to bighead and silver.

But a third species also potentially could damage this vast freshwater ecosystem if it becomes established in substantial numbers.

The grass carp was introduced into U.S. waters about 50 years ago, with the intent of using it to manage invasive aquatic vegetation. It has done its job--- and then some. Too often it has obliterated all vegetation in a water body, including beneficial native plants.

Additionally, it has escaped and established wild populations, as did the bighead and silver. Today the grass carp is believed to be in at least 45 states.

And now this invader poses danger for the Great Lakes.

Researchers recently documented that grass carp have spawned in the Great Lakes, specifically in Ohio’s Sandusky River, a tributary of Lake Erie. They also point out that 45 of them were caught in the Great Lakes between 2007-2012. That’s not a lot, but it’s 45 too many, especially since about half of those were capable of reproducing, meaning that an established population might already exist.

That does not bode well for bass, pike, and other inshore species that thrive in and around aquatic vegetation.

Read more here.

By the way, I have personal experience with grass carp. Years ago, ignorant property owners illegally stocked grass carp in the little lake behind my house because, they said, “they filter the water and improve the water quality.”  They did so, even though the lake contained little, if any, aquatic vegetation.

Somehow, the carp have survived and today some of them weigh 30 pounds or more. They’re the equivalent of big aquatic cows, degrading water quality, not improving it, as their wastes feed alga blooms during summer.

Also, hundreds of pounds of carp prevent growth of hundreds of pounds of bass, bluegill, and catfish. Like a farm field, a lake can sustain just so much biomass. 

Tuesday
Mar252014

Conservation Directors 'Energized' by Summit

Conservation is a priority for B.A.S.S. and its members, as evidenced by this habitat work at Georgia's Lake Allatoona by the Marietta BassMasters. Photo by Dale McPherson.

As the new National Conservation Director for B.A.S.S., Gene Gilliland’s first Conservation Summit was a stimulating success, according to state directors who attended during Bassmaster Classic week here.

“Some of our sessions were very educational and others were just intense, as we gathered our thoughts about where we need to go from here,” said New Mexico’s Earl Conway, winner of the Conservation Director of the Year Award.

 “I left very energized with new perspectives about our goals.”

West Virginia’s Jerod Harman added, “Because every person involved brought his A-game,”there honestly was not  one single thing that really stands above the rest throughout the Summit.  Speaking on behalf of the B.A.S.S. Nation Conservation Directors in attendance, we are really looking forward to taking our new-found knowledge back to our states and getting to work!”

Gilliland, meanwhile, did highlight a time Friday, when the tone was set for the program. That was when B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin stopped by to speak for 15 minutes, but ended up staying for an hour to talk about promoting the organization and its conservation work, especially through partnerships.

“He answered all of their questions and they appreciated that,” the National Conservation Director said. “That set the stage and encouraged everyone that conservation has the support of management.”

The first-day “business session” also included an update about the college and high school programs from Tournament Manager Jon Stewart and insights from B.A.S.S. Social Media and B.A.S.S. Nation Editor Tyler Reed on providing content for articles and updates.

Saturday began with a presentation by Gordon Robertson from the American Sportfishing Association and Chris Horton from the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. They encouraged the 30 or conservation directors, and a nearly equal number of state fisheries chiefs and biologists, to better communicate with one another. They also reminded conservation directors that their jobs include dealing with political issues, Gilliland said.

Later in the morning, Jim Martin of the Berkley Conservation Institute led a brainstorming session about how to move the conservation agenda into cooperative ventures, looking at the bigger issues, including watersheds, water quality, and access.

“It was a very engaging discussion, with a lot of good ideas that helped energize people,” the National Conservation Director said.

Following lunch sponsored by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Mike Netherland from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Craig Martin from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service updated attendees about issues related to invasive plants and aquatic life.

Sunday featured  a grant-writing seminar that Harman described as “fantastic.” Chris Edmonston of the BoatUS Foundation emphasized attention to detail and shared specifics for writing winning proposals.

During lunch sponsored by Alabama Power, Drs. Hobson Bryan and Thomas Wells from the University of Alabama explained how siltation is destroying important backwaters in many of our rivers.

In summarizing the event, North Carolina’s Bill Frazier said, “There’s a noticeable increase in enthusiasm since the inaugural rebirth at Shreveport. There are many very effective programs emerging out of the conservation mission and the state conservation directors are stepping up.”

(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)

Friday
Mar212014

Stop Blaming the 'Villagers'

Today’s biology lesson is about the life cycle of zebra mussels. As an added bonus, I’m going to provide a little instruction in the lost art of journalism.

First, read this excerpt from an article about the exotic shellfish on the KAAL website in Minnesota:

 * * *

"Say you've pumped in 100 gallons of water off Lake Minnetonka and it comes in now and then pumps out, any villagers that happen to be in that tank can't get out either,” said Larry Meddock with the Water Sports Industry Association. The villagers are trapped. That's important because the filter reduces the risk of any hitchhikers being transported from one lake to another through ballast tanks on boats.

* * *

Now here’s the journalism lesson: Know what you’re talking about.

And here’s a clue to the biology lesson: “Villagers” don’t live in water; they live in a village. And they are people, not zebra mussels.

What, then, are the “villagers” that the KAAL author is referring to? Had she bothered to do any research, she would have discovered that the correct term is “veligers.”

Here’s what you need to know about zebra mussels and what that article failed miserably to explain:

Veligers are the microscopic, free-swimming larvae of zebra and other mussels. They can drift in the water for several weeks, before settling onto hard surfaces to grow into hard-shell adults.

They likely were introduced to the Great Lakes as veligers in the ballast water of ocean-going ships. They also are being spread within the United States in ballast, as well as in bilges, livewells and any other water left in a boats as they leave infected waterways.

As adults, they can hitchhike by attaching to boat hulls, props, and trailers, surviving out of water for a week or so.

That’s why it’s so important that you clean, drain, and dry your boat after leaving any water infected with zebra or quagga mussels. And the failure of many to take these precautions is a major reason that these problematic shellfish have spread out from the Great Lakes, and, in recent years even crossed the Continental Divide.

Aside from outcompeting native species for oxygen, food, and habitat, they clog water and hydropower plants, costing the nation’s economy more than $1 billion a year in damages and associated control costs annually.

Stop the spread of “veligers,” and leave the “villagers” alone.

Monday
Mar172014

Another Troublesome Invasive Plant Is Spreading

A pilot project in Michigan has resulted in the discovery of an increased threat to fisheries posed by European frog-bit, an exotic floating plant.

Statewide monitoring by the Early Detection Rapid Response coalition revealed European frog-bit in Saginaw Bay, Munuscong Bay, and around Alpena on Lake Huron. Previously, it was thought to be established in just a few localized sites in the southeastern Lower Peninsula.

“Responding quickly to a new invasive species is critical to increasing our chances of success, and it requires a well organized, collaborative effort between multiple agencies and other partners,” said Russ Mason, chief of the Wildlife Division for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Thanks to grant funding for the project through the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, control measures were quickly implemented, including physical removal and trial treatments with herbicides. By mid September, 1,500 pounds of the invasive had been pulled out of the infected areas.

Additionally, education, outreach, and future control activities are being planned with angling groups and other stakeholders.

European frog-bit resembles a miniature lily pad, with leaves about the size of a quarter. Forming dense mats, it shades out beneficial submerged native plants, disrupts natural water flow, and inhibits access.

It originally was accidentally released into Canadian waters during the 1930s, spreading throughout Ontario and into New York, Vermont, and other eastern states.

(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)