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Hundreds of invasive applesnails removed from Lower Salt River

The Arizona Game and Fish Department kicked off its 8th annual battle against the spread of invasive applesnails along the Lower Salt River this summer.

On June 22, AZGFD employees – along with the help of the Tonto National Forest, the SeaLife Aquarium, and volunteers from the general public, hopped aboard their kayaks to take the fight to the snails. The group successfully identified 3,428 egg masses in a combined 833 minutes of searching and removed them along with an astonishing 717 applesnails.

How Applesnails Impact Sport-fishing

Applesnails have the potential to impact the fish community in the Lower Salt River by outcompeting our resident snails (like pond snails and ramshorn snails). Pond snails and ramshorn snails are one component of the food base for native and sport fish in the river. Fish don’t feed on applesnails — they’re unpalatable even to crayfish!

More about Applesnails

Applesnails are a foreign species, originating from South America, which found their way into Arizona waters as exotic pets that were illegally dumped into the wild.

Due to their extraordinary reproductive capacity (a single snail is capable of producing 15,000 offspring in a year) and a complete lack of predators available to eat them, the applesnail population has exploded along the Lower Salt River.

They have since overtaken the river between the Phone D Sutton and Granite Reef campgrounds, where large wads of bubblegum-pink egg masses stain the reeds along the banks. These snails displace native species, alter wetland ecosystems, and can even act as an intermediate host for meningitis-bearing rat lungworm. This species is a nuisance that needs to be removed.

How you Can Help

AZGFD encourages you to get inspired and get educated. Come help us take the fight to these invasive species by volunteering for one of our removals later this summer on July 20 and Aug. 17.

Spend the day kayaking along the beautiful Salt River making a positive change in our ecosystem. To participate, AZGFD only asks that volunteers become paddle-safety certified by taking a free Arizona Paddlesports class at our Headquarters in Phoenix. Visit https://www.azgfd.com/Education/Boating/ and click the kayaker to register.

Please remember to never release unwanted pets into the wild. Instead, call AZGFD and let us help take them off your hands.