Contact(s): Robert Wakeman, DNR aquatic invasive species coordinator, 262-574-2149, firstname.lastname@example.org; Tim Campbell, AIS outreach specialist, University of Wisconsin, 203-501-7855, Tim.email@example.com; Taylor Finger, DNR wildlife management, 608-266-8841, firstname.lastname@example.org
MADISON, Wis. - As Wisconsin's goose and duck seasons get underway, the Department of Natural Resources is asking for help from the state's dedicated hunters to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
"Healthy wetlands and waterways support strong waterfowl populations," said Paul Samerdyke, a DNR wildlife biologist stationed at the Horicon Marsh. "We know that Wisconsin waterfowl hunters are committed to conservation, and they've been solid partners in restoring and improving wetland habitats. We don't want these efforts to be diminished by the spread of damaging aquatic invaders."
As part of this effort DNR staff - primarily deputy conservation wardens called Water Guards - and conservation partners will be in the field on opening day, in both the northern and southern hunting zones, visiting with hunters and talking about steps everyone can take to protect waterfowl populations and the habitats they depend on.
A key part of the message: "Just a few minutes of preventative action can protect your hunting tradition for generations to come."
In addition to standard boating gear, waterfowl hunters often use decoys, dogs, waders and push poles that may contain water, debris and mud where invasive species such as zebra mussels, faucet snails and starry stonewort can hide. Use of nonnative vegetation such as phragmites to help conceal blinds or boats can also lead to the inadvertent spread of species that clog waterways and crowd out beneficial plants that provide food and shelter for ducks and geese.
Other types of aquatic invasive species may serve as hosts for parasites or bacteria that can kill waterfowl. As a result, DNR urges hunters to clean equipment as well as boats and check dogs' coats before leaving a hunting location.
To help share the message and provide tips for cleanup DNR staff and partners will visit with hunters at key locations. On September 23, opening day for the Northern Zone, teams will be in Mead Wildlife Area. On September 30, opening day for the Southern and Mississippi Zones, teams will be at access points along the Green Bay shoreline and in the Horicon Marsh as well as in southeast Wisconsin and along the Mississippi River.
To help protect waterfowl habitat and populations, hunters must take these simple steps before launching into and leaving a waterbody:
DNR staff also appreciates hunters' knowledge and experience in familiar hunting areas and encourages reporting new aquatic invasive species. Early detection is crucial to reducing or eliminating the harm from damaging species.
For more information on Wisconsin's invasive species rule and what hunters, anglers, boaters and other outdoor enthusiasts can do to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, visit DNR.wi.gov and search "Aquatic Invasive Species."