Youth Art Contest Seeks Invasive Species Detectives

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is pleased to announce the eighth annual California Invasive Species Youth Art Contest. This year’s theme, “Be An Invasive Species Detective,” encourages students to think about how paying attention to their surroundings can protect against the spread of invasive species.

Pictured: one of last year’s winning submissions

“Detectives look for clues and use observation to solve crimes,” said Elizabeth Brusati, an environmental scientist with CDFW’s Invasive Species Program. “We want young people to look for ways to stop the spread of invasive species. Helpful actions could include choosing native plants for landscaping, not releasing unwanted pets into the wild, reporting invasive species sightings, and taking precautions to clean, drain and dry gear after visiting waterbodies.”

The contest is offered by CDFW’s Invasive Species Program as part of California Invasive Species Action Week, June 5-13.

There are three age divisions for youths in grades 2-4, 5-8 and 9-12. All types of media are welcome and encouraged, including (but not limited to) drawings, paintings, animations, comic strips, videos and public service announcements. Entries should reflect the 2021 theme: “Be An Invasive Species Detective.”

The top three winners in each division will receive awards and have their entries announced on CDFW’s Facebook page.

The deadline for art contest entries is May 5. Completed entries and entry forms should be submitted electronically. Submission instructions can be found on the CDFW website.

The goal of California Invasive Species Action Week 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.

Please visit CDFW online for details about the 2021 contest and information on how to participate in Action Week.

The mission of CDFW’s Invasive Species Program is to reduce the impacts of invasive species on the wildlands and waterways of California. The program is involved in efforts to prevent the introduction of these species into the state, detect and respond to introductions when they occur, and prevent the spread of those species that have established.

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Media Contacts
Ken Paglia, CDFW Communications, (916) 825-7120 
Elizabeth Brusati, CDFW Invasive Species Program, (916) 376-8657 

Aquarium Moss Balls Threaten to Spread Invasive Mussels

A zebra mussel on an aquarium moss ball. Photo courtesy of Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is asking retailers and consumers to help stop the spread of a dangerous invasive mussel that has been found in aquarium moss balls sold in California and nationwide.

CDFW was notified last week that zebra mussels, highly invasive freshwater mussels which are illegal to possess in California, were found on aquatic moss balls at a national pet supply retailer. Investigators traced the origin of the mussel-contaminated moss balls to a distributor in Southern California. CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division worked with the distributor to immediately cease outgoing shipments and prevent the receipt of additional importations. State and federal law enforcement agencies continue to investigate the potential supply chains associated with this product, and have since identified several additional suppliers to California and nationwide.

“If zebra mussels escape from aquaria and into the environment, they pose the risk of causing enormous environmental and economic impacts,” said Martha Volkoff, CDFW environmental program manager. “Once introduced to rivers, creeks, lakes and canals, mussels multiply quickly, encrust surfaces and disrupt ecosystems, water delivery systems and recreational opportunities. It is imperative that pet suppliers and aquarists take action to prevent these mussels that have entered the aquarium trade from reaching our waterways.”

California law prohibits possession, importation, shipment and release of zebra mussels in any waters within the state. Possession of zebra mussels in California, live or dead, and whether intentional or not, is a violation of California Fish and Game Code section 2301.

CDFW is calling upon pet supply retailers and home aquarium enthusiasts to prevent the spread of mussels from aquariums.

Retailers:

  • Immediately pull moss balls from your shelves and store in a secure location until they can be destroyed. Also inspect all other moist and aquatic plant products. All moss balls, and any other products found to be contaminated with mussels should be placed in a bag, frozen overnight and disposed of in the municipal trash.
  • Immediately inspect all fish tanks and filtration systems for mussels. If mussels are found, cease sale of all products from those tanks. Remove all mussels and live plants, place in a bag, freeze overnight and dispose of in the municipal trash. Clean and disinfect all aquaria, filters and decorations.

Consumers:

If you have added moss balls to your aquarium or fish bowl in the past year, assume that you may have introduced zebra mussels and take one of the following actions:

Alternative 1. If you observe mussels in your aquaria, per U.S. Fish and Wildlife recommendations, empty and disinfect the aquarium and all of its contents: fws.gov/fisheries/ANS/zebra-mussel-disposal.html. Even if you do not observe mussels consider decontaminating your tank and all of its contents. (Considering the significant investment many aquarists make in establishing and maintaining their aquaria, disinfecting and reestablishing a system per these recommendations may not be a realistic expectation. If so, please adhere to Alternative 2.)

Alternative 2. Quarantine and monitor your aquarium for at least six months. Complete instructions for quarantining your tank, and an observation log to assist you with monitoring your tank, are available on CDFW’s website: wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Invasives/Aquarium-Moss-Balls. The quarantine would end six months after no mussels are observed.

For additional information and guidance, please call CDFW’s Invasive Mussel Hotline at (866) 440-9530 or visit wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Invasives/Quagga-Mussels.

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Media Contact:
Ken Paglia, CDFW Communications, (916) 825-7120

CDFW Recognizes California Invasive Species Action Week

volunteers remove invasive plants at a public park

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is inviting all Californians to learn about – and join the fight against – harmful non-native plants and animals that threaten our state’s natural resources.

The seventh annual California Invasive Species Action Week (CISAW) runs from Saturday, June 6 through Sunday, June 14, 2020. Historically, agencies, non-profits and volunteer organizations across the state have teamed up to host events for CISAW. This year, due to COVID-19 concerns, activities will be hosted online, including webinars, videos and Facebook live events. Visit wildlife.ca.gov/CISAW to view the schedule.

All Californians can help stop the spread of invasive species by taking small, everyday actions, such as landscaping with native plants, not releasing unwanted pets into the wild, reporting invasive species findings, and cleaning, draining and drying gear when recreating in bodies of water.

Additionally, the winners of CDFW’s annual California Invasive Species Youth Art Contest will be announced on social media during CISAW. The theme of this year’s contest was “Be a Habitat Hero.”

The mission of CDFW’s Invasive Species Program is to reduce the impacts of invasive species on the wildlands and waterways of California. The program is involved in efforts to prevent the introduction of these species into the state, detect and respond to introductions when they occur and prevent the spread of those species that have established.

For questions or more information about CISAW, please contact invasives@wildlife.ca.gov.

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Media Contacts:
Ken Paglia, CDFW Communications, (916) 825-7120
Elizabeth Brusati, CDFW Invasive Species Program, (916) 376-8657

Youth Art Contest Celebrates Habitat Heroes

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is pleased to announce the seventh annual California Invasive Species Youth Art Contest. This year’s theme, “Be a Habitat Hero,” encourages students to think about what they can do in their own communities to protect against the spread of invasive species.

“Everyone can be a habitat hero by taking small steps to stop invasive species. Helpful steps include choosing native plants for landscaping, not releasing unwanted pets into the wild, reporting invasive species findings and taking precautions to clean, drain and dry gear after recreating in waterbodies,” said Elizabeth Brusati, an environmental scientist with CDFW’s Invasive Species Program.

The contest is offered by CDFW’s Invasive Species Program as part of California Invasive Species Action Week, June 6-14.

There are three age divisions for youths in grades 2-4, 5-8 and 9-12. All types of media are welcome and encouraged, including (but not limited to) drawings, paintings, animations, comic strips, videos and public service announcements. Entries should reflect the 2020 theme: “Be a Habitat Hero.”

The top three winners in each division will receive awards and have their entries displayed on CDFW’s Invasive Species Action Week web page.

The deadline for art contest entries is May 1. Completed entries and entry forms should be sent to:

CDFW Invasive Species Program
P.O. Box 944209
Sacramento, CA 94244-2090

The entry form and entries may also be emailed to invasives@wildlife.ca.gov.

The goal of California Invasive Species Action Week 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.

Action Week activities will include presentations on aquatic and terrestrial invasives, guided outings to observe and assess infested areas, invasive species removal efforts, habitat restoration projects and the announcement of the winners of the youth contest. Opportunities for youths and adults to participate or volunteer will be available across the state through participating agencies, organizations and volunteer groups, with information and details to be provided on the Action Week web page.

Visit CDFW online for details about the 2020 contest and information on how to participate in Action Week.

The mission of CDFW’s Invasive Species Program is to reduce the impacts of invasive species on the wildlands and waterways of California. The program is involved in efforts to prevent the introduction of these species into the state, detect and respond to introductions when they occur and prevent the spread of those species that have established.

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Media Contacts:
Elizabeth Brusati, CDFW Invasive Species Program, (916) 376-8657
Ken Paglia, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

Invasive Snails Found in Santa Ana River and Bear Creek

Anglers, Residents and Visitors Urged to Help Prevent Further Spread

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has confirmed the presence of New Zealand mudsnail (NZMS) within San Bernardino County. The invasive snails were found in both the Santa Ana River and designated wild trout stream of Bear Creek within the greater Santa Ana River Watershed.

Despite their small size, NZMS is a highly problematic aquatic species. At only 4 to 6 millimeters in length on average, dense populations of NZMS can displace and outcompete native species, sometimes by consuming up to half the food resources in a waterway that native insects and fishes would eat. The snails have been linked to reducing populations of aquatic insects, including mayflies, stoneflies, caddisflies, chironomids and other insect groups upon which trout and other organisms depend.

CDFW urges anglers, boaters, visitors and locals to “clean, drain and dry” all recreational items and fishing gear, which generally means anything that has gotten wet. It is important to leave any stream water, debris and organic plant matter at a recreational site in order to prevent the further spread of the snails. Once NZMS is established in a new habitat, it is impossible to eradicate it without damaging other components of the ecosystem. Boaters, anglers and others who may visit any body of water, within or outside of infested areas, are asked to decontaminate their equipment and follow the “clean, drain and dry” best practices for all equipment and clothing used in a waterway:

  • If you wade, freeze waders, wading boots and other gear overnight (at least six hours, though 24 hours is recommended).
  • After leaving the water, inspect waders, boots, float tubes, paddleboards, kayaks or any gear used in the water. Leave all water and debris at the site that you exited.
  • Additionally, remove any visible snails with a stiff brush, clean off soils and organic material, and follow this by rinsing at the site, preferably with high-pressure hot water.
  • It is critical to completely dry out gear for a minimum of 24 hours.
  • Never transport live fish or other aquatic plants or animals from one body of water to another.
  • An informational flier on the “clean, drain and dry” directive is available for download on CDFW’s website.

The Santa Ana River is the largest river completely in Southern California. Its flow begins in the San Bernardino mountains and concludes at the ocean in Huntington Beach. Bear Creek begins at Big Bear Lake and connects with the Santa Ana River in the mountains. The Santa Ana River watershed has a drainage basin size of 2,650 square miles, is home to 4.5 million people, and is popular among recreationalists and fishermen.

To date, NZMS has been identified in over 17 bodies of waters in the coastal Southern California counties of Ventura, Los Angeles, and Orange, including Lower Santa Ana River. NZMS-positive lakes and streams in the Eastern Sierra are in Inyo and Mono counties – Diaz Lake (Inyo), Pleasant Valley Reservoir (Inyo), Tinnemaha Reservoir (Inyo), Lone Pine Creek (Inyo), Lower Bishop Creek (Inyo), Bishop Creek (Inyo), Bishop Creek Canal (Inyo) and Los Angeles Aqueduct (Inyo); Owens River (Mono and Inyo); Upper Owens River (Mono), Hot Creek (Mono), Rush Creek below Grant Lake Dam (Mono) and Crowley Lake (Mono).

CDFW has launched public outreach and education efforts to discuss NZMS in San Bernardino County with local water districts, federal and state agencies, non-profit fisheries partners and fly fishing clubs. Greater outreach efforts will occur in the next few months and into the spring, including posting NZMS signage at Bear Creek angler survey boxes and at other water access points along the Santa Ana River.

For more information on NZMS , please visit the Invasive Species page on CDFW’s website. The U.S. Geological Survey’s website also features an interactive map showing the current distribution of NZMS  in California and throughout the U.S.

Media Contacts:
Jennifer E. Hemmert, CDFW Inland Deserts Region, (951) 634-8793
Tim Daly, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

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