Minnesota DNR prevention effort focuses on invasive species

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources invites aquarium hobbyists, gardeners and anglers to an informational webinar at noon, April 12 about preventing the introduction and spread of invasive species. The webinar will focus on recently completed DNR projects that assessed risks of invasive species introduction through live organism trades, as well as steps hobbyists and sellers can take to help reduce those risks.

Businesses and activities that involve live organisms—such as the pet, horticulture, seafood, bait, and classroom and laboratory biological supply trades—have led to invasive species introductions. For example, the DNR recently discovered football-sized goldfish in Keller Lake, in Burnsville.

Invasive species are non-native species that may cause harm to Minnesota’s wildlife, plants, environment, recreation or human health. Some aquatic invasive species are illegal to possess, import, purchase, sell, propagate or transport. These are known as prohibited invasive species.

The DNR Invasive Species Program conducted surveys of sellers and consumers, and also hired a contractor to assess the availability of invasive species at Minnesota pet stores and seafood markets. The research found multiple aquarium stores selling prohibited invasive crayfish and other risky species. Many sellers also reported receiving “hitchhiker” organisms that arrived unexpectedly in shipments. A survey showed most aquarium and water garden hobbyists are concerned about invasive species and want to help prevent their introduction and spread. The DNR’s survey work was funded through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and will help inform proactive approaches to invasive species management in Minnesota.

When it comes to managing invasive species, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Follow these steps to protect Minnesota waters:

Never release non-native animals or plants into the environment, outside of residential and commercial landscape settings.
Choose low-risk or native species when making purchases.
Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash and unwanted aquatic plants in the trash or compost.
Contact a local pet store, vet or hobbyist club for re-homing options if you have a pet or plant you can no longer care for.

To sign up for the webinar or to join the responsible buyers email list, visit the responsible buyers page of the DNR website (mndnr.gov/Invasives/Responsible-Consumers.html). More information is available on the DNR page on trade pathways for invasive species (mndnr.gov/Invasives/Trade-Pathways.html).