June is Invasive Species Month in Wisconsin
Invasive species are non-native species that are introduced, often by human activity, into an area and cause damage to that area’s ecosystem. Non-native species tend to lack natural predators giving them a definite advantage to propagate in a new area.
As a response to the increase of invasive species in Wisconsin, the Department of Natural Resources in 2009 created NR40, Wisconsin’s Invasive Species Identification, Classification and Control Rule, to teach people how to identify invasive species as well as ways to prevent their spread. The rule allows the department to take quicker action against a potential or known invader, as well as to ensure that any actions are consistent.
There are currently 70 NR40 regulated plants in Wisconsin, not to mention a large number of insects and animals. Some of these include Eurasian watermilfoil, an aquatic plant that forms dense mats of vegetation on the water’s surface; the northern snakehead, this fish can breathe air and survive up to 14 days out of water has a voracious appetite for fish; and the round goby; a small fish that outcompetes native fish for food and a predator of eggs of native fish.
Preventative steps and invasive species identification are the first and perhaps most important steps in attacking invasive species in Wisconsin. Your ability to identify and properly report an invader is vital to tracking and removing invasives. According to the DNR there are five best practices for landowners and land users to be aware of: prevention, early detection and rapid response, control, monitoring, and restoration.
Prevention is the safest and easiest way to ensure that are an area remains invasive free.
- After completing outdoor activities inspect clothing and shoes for plant material.
- Avoid traveling in areas where invaders are known to be.
- Clean all equipment used during outdoor activity such as bicycles, lawn mowers, boats, and chainsaws.
- When gardening, do not plant seeds or seedlings that are not native to the area.
- Properly dispose of landscaping materials you will not compost.
- Never transport firewood beyond 25 miles of where you bought it.
Early Detection and Rapid Response
Early detection means a rapid response can be mounted. If you come across an invader, report your sighting by calling your nearest DNR office or following the steps on their website.
Early detection allows the DNR to formulate the best course of action and may save hours of labor and preventing undue ecological and financial strains.
Containment and Removal
When an invader is found, the best prevention and control method is often an integrated pest management method. This means using destructive methods on the invaders while performing preventative measures in the affected area to prevent spread. First it is important to slow and prevent further spread of the invader. The control method depends on the invader found; a complete list of available methods is available on the Wisconsin DNR website.
After containment and removal activities are completed, a good monitoring strategy can help reduce the likelihood of and invaders return. Regular checks on previously infected areas as well as surrounding areas will provide early detection if the invasive have returned.
By following the DNR’s best practice guidelines, it also helps prevent re-establishment. Restoring the affected areas of the invasion is an important step to restore its vitality and to help balance the ecosystem.
A Team Effort
Anyone who lives, works, or plays in Wisconsin serves an important role in the battle against invasive species. Whether you are monitoring your own land, volunteering to pull garlic mustard plants, or merely cleaning plant material off clothes and equipment before leaving an area; they all serve as important steps in preventing the spread of invasive species.