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Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

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Volunteers remove buckthorn. It's hard but worthwhile work.

© Brock Woods

June 2007

Only YOU can stop the invasion

Help prevent the spread of invasive species.

Julia Solomon

Everyone who enjoys the natural treasures of Wisconsin can take steps to prevent the spread of invasive species. Whether your passion is fish or flowers, your actions are a vital part of the statewide campaign to control invasive species.


Who: Boaters and Anglers

ACTION: Each time you get ready to leave a water body, make sure to:

  • Inspect your boat, trailer and equipment and remove visible aquatic plants, animals and mud.
  • Drain water from your boat, motor, bilge, live wells and bait containers.
  • Dispose of leftover bait in the trash, not in the water or on the land.
  • Rinse your boat and recreational equipment with hot water OR dry for at least five days.

Who: Aquarium and Pond Owners

ACTION: Do not release any aquatic plants or animals into the environment.

  • If you have unwanted specimens, consider trading with another hobbyist, returning to the retailer or donating to a school. Make sure that your pond is constructed to withstand heavy rains – overflow can carry organisms from your pond into nearby streams and lakes.

Who: Campers

ACTION: Leave firewood at home and purchase firewood at or near your campsite location. Look for dry, aged wood that is less likely to contain pests.

  • Burn all wood during your trip – do not leave firewood behind and do not transport it to other locations. Also inspect clothing and equipment for mud and stowaways (seeds, insects, etc.) before leaving your camping area.

Who: Hunters, Hikers, Bikers and Horseback Riders

ACTION: Seeds, eggs and other materials can be spread by the tread on your shoes and bike tires, on your clothes, and in your pets' fur, hooves and manure.

  • Try to avoid walking through known populations of invaders and check for mud and seeds before moving to a new area.
  • Dispose of any hitchhikers in a plastic bag in the trash. Horseback riders can feed their animals weed-free hay and feed for several days before venturing into wild areas.

Who: Gardeners

ACTION: Use native plant species whenever possible.

  • Contact your local UW-Extension office to learn more about landscaping with natives. Get to know which plants might be invasive and avoid planting them anywhere where they might spread.

Who: Parents and Educators

ACTION: Teach kids about the environmental damage invasive species can cause.

  • Get kids outside to appreciate Wisconsin's natural environment and involve them in education projects such as raising purple loosestrife biocontrol beetles. Contact DNR outdoor educators to learn more about environmental education opportunities, including Project WET, Project WILD, Project Learning Tree, and the Invaders of the Forest activity guide.

Who: Waterfront Property Owners

ACTION: Practice good lake stewardship – limit runoff, protect native plants, etc. – to keep your lake healthy and resilient.

  • Work with neighbors to educate lake residents and visitors about ways to limit the spread of existing invaders and avoid introducing new aquatic invaders. Consider participating in Clean Boats, Clean Waters – Wisconsin's volunteer watercraft inspection program. Monitor your lake for invasives, and if any problem species are found, inform DNR lakes staff and work with the agency on control options.

Who: All Nature-Lovers

ACTION: Learn to recognize your local native plants and animals. Then be on the lookout for invasive species on your property and in the places you visit.

  • Begin work immediately to contain any new invaders – don't wait until they get out of hand. Early detection is often the key to controlling an invasion.
  • If you think you have spotted a new invader in your area, contact the DNR regional ecologist. When reporting an invasive species, collect a specimen or take a photo and record details such as exactly where and when you found it.

Julia Solomon is an educator explaining aquatic invasive species issues for the Department of Natural Resources and UW-Extension.