How to Prevent the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species

What exactly is an invasive species? you may be wondering, and why is it bad to have them spread? An invasive species is one that is not native. And whose introduction is likely to cause harm to Michigan’s economy, environment, or human health. Often nicknamed hitchhikers, invasive species can spread by hitching a ride on humans and their equipment. Once in a new location these animal, plant, and fungi species reproduce rapidly and damage ecosystems, even to the extent of harming human economies or health. Invasive species can out-compete native species for food and habitat leading to excessive growth and reproduction, and loss of ecosystem
diversity and function. In other words, invasive species can be really bad and we want to prevent them from spreading. So once you’ve wrapped up your important work monitoring the health of our waterways, and it’s time to head back
home or off to another site, there are a few simple effective and critical steps
to do first. Inspect, Remove, Disinfect and dry. To inspect thoroughly, look
closely at all parts of your clothing. Make sure to check the folds and seams
where some species may hide. Check your boots or shoes for any signs of hitchhikers that might not belong, and don’t forget to inspect all of your gear especially anything that may have come into contact with the water or shore. Next up, grab your handy decontamination supply bucket and use the tools to remove any debris, mud, animals, or plant matter. You don’t have to be able to identify it to remove it, and by doing so you’re making sure not to spread
invasive species. Things like seeds or plant matter might be easy to remove, but also make sure to clean off any mud or debris that can contain bacteria or tiny creatures, like worms and snails. Tools like lint rollers and brushes
and scrapers for boot treads can help make short work of the removal process. Don’t forget that you can use the water where you are to help wash, rinse, and discard what you remove. Once you’ve inspected and removed anything suspicious at the site, head back to your vehicle for the final steps:
Disinfect and dry. Here you’ll take your bottle of bleach solution and spray the bottoms of your boots, waders, trays or anything else that has gotten dirty. Make sure to wash your hands and then wait 10 minutes for the disinfecting magic to happen. Keep in
mind you don’t want bleach anywhere near the waterway, so please be careful that
your vehicles not by the shore. Spray down your gear again with tap water to get the bleach off. Then, towel off and air dry your equipment before using it again in another water body. It may need 2 to 5 days of drying time depending on the type of invasive species you encountered. Then, load up your gear and
you’re good to go! Thanks for taking care of our lakes, rivers, and streams and keeping invasive species in check.

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