Category Archives: Invasive Species

Boaters Can Help Fight Spread of Invasive Mussels Over Labor Day Weekend

California agencies combatting the spread of invasive quagga and zebra mussels remind boaters to remain cautious over Labor Day weekend.

Quagga and zebra mussels are invasive freshwater mussels native to Europe and Asia. They multiply quickly, encrust watercraft and infrastructure, alter water quality and the aquatic food web and ultimately impact native and sport fish communities. These mussels spread from one waterbody to another by attaching to watercraft, equipment and nearly anything that has been in an infested waterbody.

Invisible to the naked eye, microscopic juveniles are spread from infested waterbodies by water that is entrapped in boat engines, bilges, live-wells and buckets. Quagga mussels have infested 33 waterways in Southern California and zebra mussels have infested two waterways in San Benito County.

To prevent the spread of these mussels and other aquatic invasive species, people launching vessels at any waterbody are subject to watercraft inspections and are strongly encouraged to clean, drain and dry their motorized and non-motorized boats, including personal watercraft, and any equipment that contacts the water before and after use.

“As the summer boating season comes to an end, boaters are reminded to clean, drain, and dry their watercraft and equipment after every use to limit the spread of invasive species and help conserve California’s irreplaceable plant, fish and wildlife resources,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Habitat Conservation Planning Branch Chief Rick Macedo said.

Take the following steps both before traveling to and before leaving a waterbody to prevent spreading invasive mussels, improve the efficiency of your inspection experience and safeguard California waterways:

  • CLEAN — inspect exposed surfaces and remove all plants and organisms,
  • DRAIN — all water, including water contained in lower outboard units, live-wells and bait buckets, and
  • DRY — allow the watercraft to thoroughly dry between launches. Watercraft should be kept dry for at least five days in warm weather and up to 30 days in cool weather.

CDFW has developed a brief video demonstrating the ease of implementing the clean, drain and dry prevention method. In addition, a detailed guide to cleaning vessels of invasive mussels is available on the CDFW’s webpage. Additional information is available on the Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) website.

Travelers are also advised to be prepared for inspections at California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Border Protection Stations. Over the past 10 years, more than 1.45 million watercraft entering California have been inspected at the Border Protection Stations. Inspections, which can also be conducted by CDFW and California State Parks, include a check of boats and personal watercraft, as well as trailers and all onboard items. Contaminated vessels and equipment are subject to decontamination, rejection, quarantine or impoundment.

Quagga and zebra mussels can attach to and damage virtually any submerged surface. They can:

  • Ruin a boat engine by blocking the cooling system and causing it to overheat
  • Jam a boat’s steering equipment, putting occupants and others at risk
  • Require frequent scraping and repainting of boat hulls
  • Colonize all underwater substrates such as boat ramps, docks, lines and other underwater surfaces, causing them to require constant cleaning
  • Impose large expenses to owners

A multi-agency effort that includes CDFW, DBW, CDFA and the California Department of Water Resources has been leading an outreach campaign to alert the public to the quagga and zebra mussel threats. A toll-free hotline, (866) 440-9530, is available for those seeking information on quagga or zebra mussels.

Media Contacts:
Adeline Yee, California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways, (916) 651-8725
Kyle Orr, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, (916) 322-8958
Maggie Macias, California Department of Water Resources, (916) 653-8743
Steve Lyle, California Department of Food and Agriculture, (916) 654-0462

Annual California Invasive Species Action Week Benefits Environment and Native Species

The fifth annual California Invasive Species Action Week is scheduled Saturday, June 2, through Sunday, June 10. Action Week is a statewide event that promotes public participation in the fight against invasive species that harm our environment, agriculture and native species.

Numerous state agencies, non-profit organizations and other organizations across the state are teaming up to host events this year. Opportunities include educational booths in Humboldt County, online webinars, invasive species removals in the Delta and the San Francisco Bay, and trapping crayfish in the Santa Monica Mountains. To view the schedule of events and a map compiled by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/CISAW.

Citizens can also stop the spread of invasive species year-round. People can contribute to a healthy environment by taking small, everyday actions that include cleaning, draining and drying boating gear after use, selecting native plants for landscaping, not releasing unwanted pets into the wild and reporting invasive species findings.

Members of the public are encouraged to help CDFW biologists monitor and prevent the spread of existing invasive species populations. For example, please visit the CDFW Nutria Discovery webpage to learn how you can help CDFW eradicate this destructive South American rodent from California’s wetlands.

For more information about Action Week, please contact invasives@wildlife.ca.gov.

Media Contacts:
Rachael Klopfenstein, CDFW Invasive Species Program, (916) 651-3122
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

Boaters Can Help Combat Spread of Invasive Mussels Over Memorial Day Weekend

California agencies combatting the spread of invasive quagga and zebra mussels remind boaters to remain cautious over Memorial Day weekend.

Quagga and zebra mussels are invasive freshwater mussels native to Eurasia. They multiply quickly, encrust watercraft and infrastructure, alter water quality and the aquatic food web and ultimately impact native and sport fish communities. These mussels spread from one waterbody to another by attaching to watercraft, equipment and nearly anything that has been in an infested waterbody.

Invisible to the naked eye, microscopic juveniles are spread from infested waterbodies by water that is entrapped in boat engines, bilges, live-wells and buckets. Quagga mussels have infested 33 waterways in Southern California and zebra mussels have infested two waterways in San Benito County.

To prevent the spread of these mussels and other aquatic invasive species, people launching vessels at any waterbody are subject to watercraft inspections and are strongly encouraged to Clean, Drain and Dry their motorized and non-motorized boats, including personal watercraft, and any equipment that contacts the water before and after use.

“Quagga mussels pose a serious threat to California’s aquatic resources,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Habitat Conservation Planning Branch Chief Rick Macedo said. “As the boating season begins, the public is encouraged to Clean, Drain and Dry their watercraft and equipment after every use to prevent the movement of invasive species throughout the state.”

Take the following steps both before traveling to and before leaving a waterbody to prevent spreading invasive mussels, improve the efficiency of your inspection experience and safeguard California waterways:

  • CLEAN — inspect exposed surfaces and remove all plants and organisms,
  • DRAIN — all water, including water contained in lower outboard units, live-wells and bait buckets, and
  • DRY — allow the watercraft to thoroughly dry between launches. Watercraft should be kept dry for at least five days in warm weather and up to 30 days in cool weather.

CDFW has developed a brief video demonstrating the ease of implementing the clean, drain and dry prevention method. In addition, a detailed guide to cleaning vessels of invasive mussels is available on the CDFW’s webpage. Additional information is available on the Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) website.

Travelers are also advised to be prepared for inspections at California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Border Protection Stations. Over the past nine years, more than 1 million watercraft entering California have been inspected at the Border Protection Stations. Inspections, which can also be conducted by CDFW and California State Parks, include a check of boats and personal watercraft, as well as trailers and all onboard items. Contaminated vessels and equipment are subject to decontamination, rejection, quarantine or impoundment.

Quagga and zebra mussels can attach to and damage virtually any submerged surface. They can:

  • Ruin a boat engine by blocking the cooling system and causing it to overheat
  • Jam a boat’s steering equipment, putting occupants and others at risk
  • Require frequent scraping and repainting of boat hulls
  • Colonize all underwater substrates such as boat ramps, docks, lines and other underwater surfaces, causing them to require constant cleaning
  • Impose large expenses to owners

A multi-agency effort that includes CDFW, DBW, CDFA and the California Department of Water Resources has been leading an outreach campaign to alert the public to the quagga and zebra mussel threats. A toll-free hotline, (866) 440-9530, is available for those seeking information on quagga or zebra mussels.

Media Contacts:
Adeline Yee, California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways, (916) 651-8725
Kyle Orr, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, (916) 322-8958
Christina Jimenez, California Department of Water Resources, (916) 653-0979
Steve Lyle, California Department of Food and Agriculture, (916) 654-0462

2018 Invasive Species Youth Art Contest Kicks Off with “Pledge to Not Spread” Theme

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites young artists and future biologists to enter the 2018 California Invasive Species Youth Art Contest. This year’s theme is “Pledge to Not Spread!”

  • Youths in grades two through 12 are eligible to enter the annual contest and all types of media are welcome and encouraged – drawings, paintings, animations, comic strips, videos, public service announcements, etc. Entries should depict what Californians could do to stop the spread of invasive species, along with appropriate messaging (for example, a written pledge to not release pets).
  • A public service announcement or poster explaining the risk of a particular species.
  • Instructions for cleaning hiking boots, boat or fishing gear.

Winners will be chosen in three divisions: grades 2-4, 5-8 and 9-12. Winners from each division will receive awards and have their artwork displayed on CDFW’s Invasive Species Action Week webpage. The submission judged best overall will receive the “Invasive Species Program Choice” Award.

The deadline for submissions is May 4, and they may be sent by either email or regular mail. The entry form and the contest announcement flyer can be viewed at www.wildlife.ca.gov/cisaw.

The art contest is sponsored by CDFW’s Invasive Species Program as part of the fifth annual California Invasive Species Action Week (CISAW) June 2-10. The goal of CISAW is to increase public awareness of invasive species issues and encourage public participation in the fight against California’s invasive species and their impacts on our natural resources.

With the art contest theme, CDFW plans to spread awareness about the potential for invasive species introductions through everyday activities such as hiking, fishing and traveling, as well as through the dumping unwanted plants or animals. For example, New Zealand mudsnails spread on fishing boots and gear have impacted native fish and invertebrate populations in many streams in California and the western United States. The release of non-native crayfish used as fishing bait has likely resulted in the decline of California’s native crayfish and impacted other species dependent on the habitat. Simple actions, such as cleaning, draining and drying your gear, are effective ways to combat the spread of invasive species.

CISAW activities across the state will include invasive species presentations and exhibits, invasive plant removal efforts, habitat restoration projects and the announcement of the youth art contest winners. Opportunities for youths and adults to participate or volunteer will be available through participating agencies, organizations and volunteer groups, with information and details to be provided on the CISAW webpage.

More information about CDFW’s Invasive Species Program, including examples of invasive species currently affecting California’s wildlands, is available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/invasives.

Media Contacts:
Rachael Klopfenstein, CDFW Invasive Species Program, (916) 651-3122
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

Nutria Discovered in San Joaquin Valley; CDFW Seeks to Prevent Further Spread and Infestation

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has become aware of a population of invasive nutria (Myocastor coypus) reproducing within the San Joaquin Valley. Given the severity of potential impacts and the impacts realized in other infested states, CDFW believes early intervention actions could be successful in eradicating nutria from the area and is asking the public’s help in looking for and reporting nutria sightings in order to determine the extent of the infestation.

To date, nutria have been found in wetlands, rivers, canals and other freshwater habitat in Merced, Fresno and Stanislaus counties. If allowed to establish, nutria will severely impact California’s resources, causing the loss of wetlands, severe soil erosion, damage to agricultural crops and levees and reduced stability of banks, dikes and roadbeds, as they have done in Louisiana, Chesapeake Bay and the Pacific Northwest. Nutria also degrade water quality and contaminate drinking supplies with parasites and diseases transmissible to humans, livestock and pets.

Native to South America, nutria are large, semi-aquatic rodents that reach up to 2.5 feet in body length, 12-inch tail length and 20 pounds in weight. Nutria strongly resemble native beaver and muskrat, but are distinguished by their round, sparsely haired tails and white whiskers (see CDFW’s Nutria Identification Guide). Both nutria and muskrat often have white muzzles, but muskrats have dark whiskers, nearly triangular (laterally compressed) tails and reach a maximum size of five pounds. Beavers have wide, flattened tails and dark whiskers and reach up to 60 pounds.

Female nutria are reproductive by six months of age, breed year-round, and can produce three litters in 13 months. Within approximately one year of reaching reproductive maturity, one female nutria can result in more than 200 offspring, which can disperse as far as 50 miles.

Nutria are destructive, wasteful feeders that destroy up to 10 times the vegetation they consume. Signs of presence typically include cut, emergent vegetation (e.g. cattails and bulrushes), with only the base portions eaten and the stems left floating. Nutria construct burrows with entrances typically below the water line, though changing water levels may reveal openings. Similar to other aquatic mammals, nutria often create runs, or paths in and out of the water or between aquatic sites. Nutria tracks have four visible front toes and, on their hind feet, webbing between four of five toes. Tracks are often accompanied by narrow tail drags.

Since March 30, 2017, more than 20 nutria, including males, pregnant females and juveniles, have been documented within private wetlands near Gustine, duck clubs, the Merced River near Cressey, adjacent to the San Joaquin River near Grayson, south of Dos Palos, the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge, and Salt Slough  on the San Joaquin River. The full extent of the infestation is not yet known.

A multiagency Nutria Response Team, which includes representatives from CDFW, the California Departments of Food and Agriculture, Parks and Recreation, and Water Resources, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and local county agricultural commissioner offices, has convened with the goal of eradicating nutria from the state. The response team is currently preparing an eradication plan, the first stage of which is determining the full extent of the infestation. Assistance from local landowners and the public throughout the Central Valley, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and beyond is critical to successfully delineating the population.

Suspected observations or potential signs of nutria should be photographed and immediately reported to CDFW’s Invasive Species Program online, by e-mail to invasives@wildlife.ca.gov, or by phone at (866) 440-9530. Observations on state or federal lands should be immediately reported to local agency staff at that land. CDFW has a nutria webpage and a downloadable PDF with photos and detailed descriptions of these rodents, their preferred habitat and the environmental threats they present.

Media Contacts:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908
Martha Volkoff, CDFW Invasive Species Program, (916) 651-8658

 

Nutria photo courtesy of Joyce Gross, UC Berkeley.