MADISON -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. Just a few minutes of preventative action can protect your hunting tradition for generations to come.
To help protect waterfowl habitat and populations, hunters must take these simple steps before launching into and leaving a waterbody:
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 dog coats before leaving a hunting location.
DNR staff and partners will visit with hunters at key locations throughout the state during opening weekend, September 29-30 sharing these steps that everyone can take to protect waterfowl populations and their habitats. Key locations include: Horicon Marsh, Mead Wildlife Area, locations along the Mississippi, and Big Muskego Lake.
"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."
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."