Tips for waterfowl hunters to prevent the spread of invasive species

Oct 6, 2021 | Aquatic Invasive Species, Recreation

It’s waterfowl hunting season in Wisconsin, and hunters are hiking into wetlands or using boats, canoes and kayaks to access their favorite hunting spots. Aquatic invasive species are a problem in our state, so prevention must be part of our modern hunting rituals.

Waterfowl hunters are a unique water-user group with real power to make a difference. They can choose to use artificial blind materials instead of plants to prevent seeds and plant parts from spreading. They can also prevent the spread of invasive species by checking under hunting dogs’ vests for seeds and tiny animals (like snails) and remove them before leaving the hunting site. 

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.

Learn more about tips for effective “doggie decon” from the Conservation Dogs Collective.

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.

For another great video with decontamination tips, watch Bruce Ross, Executive Director of Wisconsin Waterfowl Association and Chris Hamerla, Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator for Golden Sands Resource Conservation & Development, discuss what to do with your waders, boats and gear at the end of your time in the marsh.