5 Ways Waterfowl Hunters Can Protect Wisconsin’s Waters from Invasive Species

Oct 9, 2020 | Aquatic Invasive Species | 1 comment

The 2020 waterfowl hunting season has begun in the Mississippi Zone, and we’re ready to hit the ground running. Waterfowl hunters often hike into wetlands and/or use boats, canoes, and kayaks to access hunting spots, so aquatic invasive species (AIS) prevention must be part of the hunting ritual.

Waterfowl hunters are a unique water-user group with real power to make a difference. For example, choosing to use artificial blind materials instead of plants can prevent seeds and plant parts from spreading.

Another easy way to help prevent the spread of invasive species when hunting is to check under your hunting dog’s vest for seeds and tiny animals (like snails) and remove them before leaving the hunting site.

Learn more about tips for effective “doggie decon” in this video.

The faucet snail is of particular concern to waterfowl hunters. These snails carry intestinal flukes that can kill ducks if they eat them. And what’s duck hunting without mud? Removing as much mud as possible helps lower the risk of moving invasive pests, such as purple loosestrife seeds, the bulbils of starry stonewort, and the eggs or larvae of tiny invaders.

Here are some steps waterfowl hunters can take to prevent the spread of AIS…

5 Waterfowl Hunter AIS Prevention Steps

Just a few minutes of preventative action can protect our waters and hunting traditions for generations to come.

Before launching into and leaving a water body, hunters should do the following:

  1. Inspect waders, boats, trailers, motors, and hunting equipment, including boots, blinds, and dogs.
  2. Remove all plants, animals, and mud to the best of your ability.
  3. Drain all water from decoys, boats, motors, livewells, and other hunting equipment.
  4. Never move plants or live fish away from a waterbody.
  5. A special consideration for waterfowl hunters is to remove all seed heads and roots when using vegetation for duck blinds. It is important to note that it is illegal to use phragmites in counties where the plant is listed as prohibited by NR40. In general, these counties include the western half of Wisconsin.

Last but not least, we’re fortunate to have a little extra help spreading the word about AIS to waterfowl hunters in the La Crosse area this year. We are pleased to welcome our fall intern, Caleb Summers, to the River Alliance team.

Caleb is a senior in his last semester at UW-La Crosse majoring in Biology and minoring in Environmental Studies. He grew up in McFarland, WI and has fished all over the state from a young age. Some of his interests include trout fishing, hunting (mostly pheasant), and golf.

Caleb is currently conducting research on brown and brook trout populations in Vernon County. He shared that he is, “excited for the opportunity to spread awareness about dangerous invasive species that can hurt our magnificent bodies of water.” Welcome, Caleb!

And, our thanks to waterfowl hunters for taking action to protect Wisconsin’s waters from harmful aquatic invasive species.