It’s like a scene from a Hollywood movie: Silent invaders slip in undetected, leaving a wake of destruction.
Have invasive species invaded your favorite fishing or hunting spot? Chances are you’re impacted by them whether you’re aware or not. They’ve invaded public waters, wilderness areas, national parks, forests, refuges and backyards. Invasive plants, animals and pathogens are changing the landscape. And, they cost us billions of dollars to treat and repair the damages they cause.
For hunters and anglers, invasive species have huge impacts. Displaced game species often can’t compete and are driven into marginal habitats and populations suffer. Some invasive species are even pushing native plants and animals to extinction.
Zebra and Quagga mussels are known to foul boats, motors, and water infra- structure. They reproduce rapidly, coating docks and hard surfaces and ruin spawning habitat. Anglers are forced to fish deeper and, because of the mussels’ sharp shells, use braided line. Many hunters know the damage feral hogs can do. They carry disease, destroy crops and can be extremely aggressive.The list of invasive species continues to grow, as does the cost for game and fish departments to manage and control.
Unfortunately, that cost gets passed down to you. Some states increase fishing or boating registration fees. In some states, the costs to you come in the form of mandatory police inspections, boater check points or even closed access to public lands and water. Yes, gated access.
Thankfully hunters and anglers like you are responding and helping Wildlife Forever lead The Clean Drain Dry Initiative, a national public service campaign to educate, inform and teach sportsmen and women how to prevent the spread of invasive species.
The national campaign reaches millions of people each year to instill conservation practices and protect our natural resource at the boat ramp, on the trail and in the field.
Through a growing coalition of members and supporters, the Clean Drain Dry Initiative produces ready-made resources and media tools to put the message into action. Clean Drain Dry television commercials air during the weekend weather. As you drive to the lake or woods, radio ads can be heard reminding you to clean your gear. New cleaning stations located at the trail head or boat ramp are being installed to help hunters and anglers clean their boats and ATVs. New mobile apps called “Wild Spotter” can also be used to report and map invasive species when hunting in the backcountry.
Prevention is the key. Knowing what to do to halt the spread must be part of every outdoor activity. From fishing to hunting to hiking and biking, the mantra: clean, drain and dry, can help keep invasive species at bay and your public lands and waters open.
Clean, drain and dry all boots, boats and equipment. As hunters and anglers, we can’t afford to lose precious ground that what we’ve invested in nor can we afford more regulations. For more information about Wildlife Forever and helping an initiative in your state, check out wildlifeforever.org