National Invasive Species Awareness Week runs through Saturday
PHOENIX — Did you know that invasive quagga mussels cause millions of dollars in damage to boat motors, docks and water intake systems?
Or that unwanted turtles, tortoises, and other pets illegally released into the wild can hurt our native species by introducing disease or outcompeting them for habitat and food?
The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) is participating in National Invasive Species Awareness Week, which runs through Saturday. The nationwide event aims to educate the public about the harmful impact of invasive animals, plants and other organisms. During the week, AZGFD will post information highlighting some of the invasive species in Arizona, and how people can help slow their spread.
“Invasive species don’t respect boundaries, which makes them a continent-wide problem that starts at home,” said Sabra Tonn, heritage data management system supervisor. “The good news is that we can all play a part in helping stop their spread.”
AZGFD and the North American Invasive Species Management Association encourage people to help in the following ways:
- Learn about invasive species, especially those found in this region. AZGFD’s website and the National Invasive Species Information Center are both resources.
- Boaters and anglers should remember to clean, drain and dry your boat (and leave the plug out) before moving to another water. This helps stop the spread of quagga mussels and other aquatic invasive species. It’s not just a good practice, it’s the law. www.azgfd.gov/AIS
- Anglers should clean and dry their gear. Don’t forget to clean those wading boots. Never transport live fish from one body of water to another. StopAIS.org
- Don’t release pets into the wild. It is illegal for pet owners who no longer wish to care for their exotic pets to release them into the wild, or dump their aquariums into bodies of water, potentially harming local ecosystems. DontLetItLoose.com
- Land recreationists should clean their hiking boots, off-road vehicles and other gear to stop invasive species from hitching a ride to a new location. PlayCleanGo.org
- Campers should not move firewood. Instead, buy it where you’ll burn it, or gather on site when permitted. DontMoveFirewood.org
- Slow the spread of invasive pests by taking extra care when traveling, gardening or moving recently killed plant material. Buy plants from a reputable source, and avoid using invasive plant species. HungryPests.com
- Buy forage, hay, mulch and soil that are certified as “weed free.”
- Be a Citizen Scientist and report observations of invasive species at imapinvasives.natureserve.org.
“Everyone can do something to help prevent invasive species from impacting our natural environments,” Tonn said.