Waterfowl seasons provide a range of hunting opportunities throughout the fall and winter. While it may not be the first thing that comes to mind when duck and goose hunting, those pursuing waterfowl have a role to play in helping prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species (ANS) that impact our state’s waters. ANS are nonindigenous, aquatic species that pose significant ecological and economic threats to aquatic ecosystems. This can include fish, aquatic plants, algae, invertebrates, viruses, and other aquatic pathogens, and these things can compete with and decrease native species. Here are some things waterfowl hunters can remember to help prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species:
- Clean, Drain, and Dry your boats, decoys, waders, and other associated waterfowl hunting equipment that comes in contact with water, especially before jumping bodies of water.
- Run your boat and equipment through the car wash and give it a thoroughly heated spray down between bodies of water.
- Invasive aquatic vegetation can choke out native vegetation that makes up for ideal waterfowl hunting conditions, so be mindful of vegetation choices for blind materials. Many good cover plants are not desirable in wetlands.
- Aquatic invasives often outcompete the native vegetation that ducks use as food. This deteriorates habitat conditions and may cause birds to use the area less frequently.
- Most aquatic invasive species aren't used by waterfowl as a food source.
- Blind materials collected from the wild might contain seeds or root fragments of invasive species.
- Common invasives that are good blind material but are easily spread are Bamboo, Phragmites, and Reed Canary grass.
- Hunters should avoid transporting these plants.
- Good alternatives are commercially available blind materials.
Elaine A. Gainer, aquatic nuisance species coordinator for the Wildlife Department, and Paxton Smith, ODWC migratory game bird biologist and wetland coordinator for the Wildlife Department, contributed to this blog.