Invasive species can do undo harm

Kate Lovsin,
Watershed Co-ordinator,
Lesser Slave Watershed Council.

Everyone has heard about species diversity, but did you know that introducing a species to a new area can be a bad thing?
There are some species that have been brought to new places that have proven to be trouble. They move in and choke out all the native, or naturally occurring species in the area.
Invasive species on the land are a challenge to control, but aquatic invasive species are even more problematic. Invasive species are everyone’s concern. They have the ability to move into a new system and destroy wildlife, habitat and ecosystems, which impacts not only the environment, but also humans’ ability to recreate in lakes and rivers, hunting and fishing, and our water supply.
Species like the Quagga or Zebra Mussel, Eurasian Water-milfoil, and Purple Loosestrife are just a few of these species of concern. Many of these species can be microscopic and attach to gear, boats or may be transported in water from place to place. This is why it is so important to do your part to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
What can you do to help? Clean, drain and dry your equipment! This means to clean, drain and dry anything that touched the water from one place before you move to another waterbody [life-jackets, boats, buckets, fishing nets, etc.]
Invasive species are not always as obvious as plants stuck to propellers. They can hide in the smallest cracks and crevices on boats and equipment, which is why it is so important to clean, drain and dry equipment. Try to wash your boat and equipment away from car washes and storm drains. Clean them on dry land, ideally close to the original waterbody and make sure to pull the plug in your boat! It is against the law to transport a boat with the plug still in!
Cleaning your equipment doesn’t just prevent aquatic invasive species. It also prevents the transmission of disease. A disease of concern in Alberta is Whirling disease, which impacts the nervous systems of fish. In 2018, evidence of whirling disease in the Peace River Watershed and the Athabasca River Watershed tested positive for whirling disease. Luckily, testing conducted in 2019 by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency found no evidence of whirling disease.
Unfortunately, whirling disease has been confirmed in four of the major watersheds in central and southern Alberta.
We all need to do our part to prevent the spread of invasive species and diseases in Canadian waterways. For more information on aquatic invasive species, visit https://www.alberta.ca/aquatic-invasive-species-overview.aspx or stop by the office for some free resources.
Want your very own Aquatic Invasive Species Goodie Bag? Cut out this article and bring it in to the Lesser Slave Watershed Council’s office in High Prairie to get yours. We ask that you please call Kate at [780] 523-9800 ahead of time and make an appointment for pick up. Goodie bags available while quantities last. Bags include everything pictures and more [see below].

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