Oneida County AIS team reaches out to waterfowl hunters
As Wisconsin’s hunters are taking to the water during the 2019 waterfowl hunting season, many will be utilizing Oneida County’s lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands that offer exceptional and diverse habitats for hunting. However, hunters should be aware that invasive plants and animals, large and small, are a looming threat to fragile natural resources. For that reason, the Oneida County Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) team, DNR staff, statewide AIS partners and volunteers will be stationed at access points throughout the hunting season to talk to hunters about what they can do to stop the spread of AIS during the Waterfowl Hunter AIS Outreach program.
Now in its fourth year, the statewide Waterfowl Hunter AIS Outreach program was modeled after the successful Clean Boats, Clean Waters (CBCW) program that reaches boaters all summer long. During Waterfowl Hunter AIS Outreach, boat inspectors conduct a hunting version of the CBCW survey and talk with hunters about specific aspects of waterfowl hunting that risk AIS movement. Conversing with waterfowl hunters about how they could accidentally transfer AIS, as well as getting them on board to take a few minutes of prevention, will help stop the spread of AIS and protect their favorite hunting places for future generations to enjoy.
Why Should Waterfowl Hunters Care About AIS? AIS compete for resources and lowers food availability in brooding and breeding areas. Dense populations of invasive plants decrease quality and availability of hunting land. Unfortunately, invasive plants, seeds, and animals can hide in mud and cling to decoy bags, dog’s fur, and equipment, making it easy for them to hitch a ride. Of particular concern to hunters is the Faucet snail. These tiny snails (up to half-inch in length) are host to a parasite that kills ducks and coots as well as blocks water intakes. Additionally, eggs or larvae of tiny invaders, such as mussels and the invasive spiny waterflea, are microscopic and can live for days in water left in decoys, boat hulls, and livewells. If transported to new waters, they can quickly spread and threaten hunting habitats.
As a thank you to hunters for taking prevention steps, they are given a Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers camouflage microfiber towel, boot brush, and a collectible bird band. Since waterfowl hunters traditionally wear their duck bands as a collectible, bird bands stamped with Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers logo on it also serves as a reminder.
Just a few minutes of preventative action can protect our hunting traditions for generations to come. Before launching into and leaving a waterbody, hunters must:
- Inspect boats including interior and hulls, motors, trailers, tires/tread, truck beds and hunting equipment including boots, boot treads, waders, decoys, ropes, anchors, blinds, carts, paddles, and push-poles. Additionally, inspect dog’s fur, collar, paws and vest.
- Remove mud, aquatic plants and animals from dogs and all hunting equipment.
- Drain all water from decoys, boats, motors, livewells and other hunting equipment.
- Never Move plants or live fish away from a water body.
A special consideration for waterfowl hunters is to remove all seed heads and roots when using vegetation for your duck blinds. It is important to note that it is illegal to use phragmites in Oneida County and counties where the plant is listed as prohibited by NR40. In general, these counties include the western half of Wisconsin.
Optional Cleaning Steps. Besides the required steps of Inspect, Remove, Drain and Never Move, there are optional steps hunters can take to ensure they are stopping the spread of AIS.
- Use a stiff bristle brush to remove tiny seeds from neoprene waders, boot treads, decoys, and other gear.
- Use a wet-dry shop vacuum to clean boat interior and livewell.
- Rinse all gear with tap water.
- Soak gear (waders, boots and equipment) in hot (>120 degrees) water for at least 30 minutes.
- Soak gear in a dilute bleach solution (1-tablespoon bleach to 1-gallon water) for 10 minutes followed by a thorough rinse with tap water.
- Freeze gear and waders for 8 hours.
- Dry gear for at least 5 days. This method kills most AIS. However, survival time is longer on moist surfaces and/or in confined, wet areas such as damp waders.
- Switch to a complete new set of gear if moving to another waterbody.
For more information, contact Oneida County AIS Coordinator, Stephanie Boismenue at [email protected]. For more information about aquatic invasive species, including where they are prohibited and restricted in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov/topic/Invasives or oneidacountyais.com .