They’re storming our banks, shores and water, and costing our economy billions of dollars: aquatic invasive species.
You’ve probably heard about Asian carp and zebra mussels. But here are four lesser-know aquatic invasive species you should know about, the damage they cause and how you can help overcome their pernicious presence. From our oceans to estuaries, they’re wreaking havoc.
First, the good news: Alewives tend to draw Pacific salmon to areas such as the Great Lakes. But the bad news: Alewives are an invasive species that drive away lake trout. In addition, alewives can face occasional mass die-offs, sullying waters and damaging surrounding waterways and wildlife.
Economic Impact: Unknown.
You Can Help: Do not capture or transport alewives
2. Canada Geese
Canada geese were on the outs more than a hundred years ago, hunted to the verge of extinction. Today, they infest many portions of the U.S., also striking 78 planes and killing approximately 24 people. They are mostly a problem in the fall, winter and spring, before they migrate to Alaska or Canada.
The bad news for hunters: They can also strip grassy areas, cause damage to water quality and have even been known to shut down beaches. At last count, more than 3 million plague the U.S.
They proved no match for Captain Sully, though.
Economic Impact: More than $4.5 billion.
You Can Help: In many states, it’s illegal to use fatal methods to scare away geese. However, non-lethal methods such as fireworks, laser pointers and dispatching dogs in their direction is acceptable.
Hydrilla, an aquatic weed prevalent in the southeastern and southwestern U.S., can overtake native vegetation, damaging the habitat of the infected area’s fish and wildlife.
Economic Impact: A state such as Florida spent $55 million to control hydrilla between 1980 and 1991.
You Can Help: To prevent the spread of hydrilla, cleaning your equipment—everything from your waders to boats—is essential (see embedded video below for more tips on how to clean your gear).
4. New Zealand Mud Snail
The New Zealand Mud Snail was first introduced in Idaho during the 1980s. Since then, they’ve spread across the country, appearing in and damaging the ecosystems of rivers and reservoirs.
Economic Impact: Tens of millions of dollars per state.
You Can Help: Wear rubber-soled wading boots and wading gear to prevent the spread of the New Zealand Mud Snail. This video takes you through the steps of cleaning your wading gear to curb this spread, as well.