Category Archives: Invasive Species

Youth Art Contest Encourages Kids to Learn about Invasive Nutria

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is pleased to announce the sixth annual California Invasive Species Youth Art Contest, which this year challenges students to creatively present messages about nutria (Myocastor coypus), a relatively recent – and destructive – invasive species in California.

The contest is offered by CDFW’s Invasive Species Program as part of California Invasive Species Action Week, June 1-9.

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 be in keeping with the 2019 theme, “Say No to Nutria.” Nutria are large, semi-aquatic rodents from South America that have been found in California’s Central Valley and southern Delta. Nutria cause extensive damage to wetland habitats, agricultural crops, streambanks and levees. More information about nutria can be found on CDFW’s Nutria Incident page.

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

The deadline for art contest entries has been extended to Wednesday, May 15. 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 poster 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 webpage.

Please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/invasives/action-week/poster-contest for details about the 2019 contest, to view past winning entries and find more 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) 651-7866
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

 

CDFW Marks One-Year Anniversary of Nutria Eradication Effort: Biologists Report More Than 400 Invasive Rodents Captured to Date

One year after launching an Incident Command System and a formal effort to eradicate invasive nutria from the state, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reports significant progress in combatting the destructive, South American rodents, though much work remains.

In the early 1900s, nutria were imported and farmed in California for the fur trade. Following the market collapse, escaped and released nutria established small populations that were eventually eradicated by the late 1970s. In 2017, nutria were again discovered within the San Joaquin Valley.

Nutria pose a “triple threat” to California’s future as a top-rated agricultural pest, a destroyer of critical wetlands needed by native wildlife, and a public safety risk as their destructive burrowing jeopardizes the state’s water delivery and flood control infrastructure. CDFW has formed partnerships with both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the California Department of Food and Agriculture to survey and eradicate nutria from the state.

To date:

  • CDFW and USDA have taken or confirmed the take of 410 nutria in five counties – 330 from Merced County, 65 from San Joaquin County, 12 from Stanislaus County, two from Mariposa County and one from Fresno County. Nutria have also been confirmed in Tuolumne County.
  • The eradication efforts have prioritized the one known nutria population in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in order to limit their spread and impact on California’s most important water resource and the heart of the state’s water delivery and infrastructure. Of the 65 nutria taken from San Joaquin County, 64 were captured within Walthall Slough near Manteca. Survey crews have not detected nutria elsewhere in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
  • Nutria are a semi-aquatic species never far from water. CDFW has identified approximately 1.8 million acres of habitat suitable for nutria in California, mostly in the state’s central regions. CDFW so far has assessed more than 300,000 acres in three counties: Merced, Stanislaus and San Joaquin.
  • In suitable nutria habitat, CDFW and its partners set up trail cameras to monitor for nutria presence and deploy traps to catch the nutria once their presence has been confirmed. Over the past year, the project has set up 487 camera stations, conducted more than 1,600 camera checks and deployed 995 trap sets for a total of 12,930 trap nights.
  • CDFW’s eradication efforts have the broad support of the state’s agricultural community. As a top-rated agricultural pest, nutria threaten California’s nearly $50 billion agricultural industry. San Joaquin Valley farmers have donated five tons of sweet potatoes to use as bait to trap nutria.
  • Nutria have been documented on federal, state and private property. Gaining access to private property is key to eradication efforts and to prevent isolated populations from re-infesting the state. More than 2,400 private property owners have granted CDFW written permission to survey and trap nutria on their land, which CDFW does at no cost to property owners.
  • CDFW has received widespread public support for its eradication efforts. CDFW’s Invasive Species “hotline” and corresponding e-mail account has received 357 nutria reports from the public over the past year. While most of these have turned out to be false reports – either sightings of other wildlife mistaken for nutria or reports that lack enough information to confirm – public reporting will continue to be important to determine the full extent of the infestation. When possible, reports should be accompanied by photos and videos. CDFW’s toll-free reporting hotline is (866) 440-9530. The e-mail address to report nutria sightings is invasives@wildlife.ca.gov. CDFW’s nutria eradication webpage at wildlife.ca.gov/nutria offers references for distinguishing nutria from other similar aquatic animals.
  • Public education and outreach are key components of CDFW’s eradication efforts. In addition to numerous nutria presentations in front of scientific, agricultural and community organizations, CDFW has partnered with the Delta Stewardship Council to produce a nutria identification pocket guide. The guide is available at http://deltacouncil.ca.gov/nutria-pocket-guide.
  • CDFW has secured more than $3 million in state and federal grants to support nutria eradication. The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy has awarded CDFW $1.2 million over three years; California’s Wildlife Conservation Board has awarded CDFW $600,000 over three years; and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s State Wildlife Grant Program has awarded CDFW $1.25 million over three years.
  • Future CDFW nutria efforts include using detection dogs to help locate remnant nutria or confirm their absence. CDFW also is in the early stages of developing a “Judas nutria” project where surgically sterilized nutria, which are social animals, are outfitted with radio telemetry collars and released back into the environment to lead biologists to other nutria.
  • CDFW’s eradication efforts are modeled after those in the Chesapeake Bay in the 2000s. That ongoing effort is led by the federal government and has removed more than 14,000 nutria from 250,000 acres in the Delmarva Peninsula. Though nutria are established in more than a dozen U.S. states, including Washington, Oregon, and, most notably, Louisiana, the Chesapeake Bay effort remains the only successful, large-scale nutria eradication in U.S. history.

Media Contact:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

 

 

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