February 26 to March 3, 2012 is National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW). To highlight ways to minimize invasive species in Illinois, the IDNR is providing some timely facts regarding invasive species in Illinois. These items are educational and help raise awareness on how to minimize the effects of invasive species on the valuable resources in Illinois.
Take the Invasive Species Challenge:
One of the most effective ways to manage invasive species is for recreationalists such as boaters, fishermen, pet owners, and gardeners to not be unknowing vehicles of dispersion. Here are some easy everyday things you can do to meet the Invasive Species Challenge:
• BOATERS – Clean, drain, and dry your boat trailer and gear every time you leave a body of water.
• PET OWNERS – If you have acquired an undesirable pet or fish species for your aquarium or water garden, it is important not to release these plants or animals into the environment. Follow these tips from Habitattitude (http://www.habitattitude.net/
) for aquarium hobbyists and backyard pond owners.
• TRAVELERS, HIKERS, BIKERS, BIRDERS, AND CAMPERS – If you engage in terrestrial recreation activities like camping, hiking, biking or birding, take care not to be an unwitting vehicle of dispersion.
• GARDENERS – Not all non-native species are bad, but some plants that look lovely in your garden might be harmful invaders that will make their way into natural areas. The Be PlantWise website (http://www.beplantwise.org/
) has easy tips on how to manage your garden to preserve the unique qualities of neighboring wildlands.
Did you know?
Asian carp actually is a term that describes multiple species of Chinese carps used in aquaculture in China for thousands of years. Also referred to as China’s Four Famous Fish, these species include bighead carp, silver carp, grass carp, and black carp and they have been a staple of Chinese diets for thousands of years. Asian carp are the most cultured fish in the world. Unfortunately all four species have been found in Illinois waters, likely escaping aquaculture facilities of the southern U.S. All these species have been brought to the U.S. due to the value of these species in reducing algae, plants, plankton, and snails in aquaculture ponds.
Bighead and silver carp are the species making all the news lately as their population in the Illinois River has been documented by media around the world. Although both of these species are present in the Illinois River at relatively high abundances, the silver carp get much of the press due to their uncanny jumping ability. The escape of these species into natural waters of the U.S. is unfortunate, and the fight to reduce these populations is a challenge for the State of Illinois and our federal partners who are acting together to keep this invasion from expanding into other watersheds, such as the Great Lakes. You can check out http://asiancarp.us
for updates of the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee actions.
Did you know?
Invasive fish, snails, plants, diseases, and viruses can be transmitted by dumping bait or even just the water from bait buckets (also bilges, livewells, trailers, and equipment we use on the water). There are state regulations (administrative rules) in Illinois that prohibit the:
• Removal of natural water from waters of the state via bait bucket, livewell, baitwell, bilge, etc., or any other method;
• Removal of any watercraft, boat, boat trailer or other equipment from waters of the state without emptying and draining any bait bucket, livewell, baitwell, bilge, etc., or any other compartment capable of holding natural waters; and,
• Using wild-trapped fishes as bait within the State of Illinois, other than in the waters where they were legally taken.
To protect our Illinois waters you should inspect your boats and trailers for visible contamination of plants, mud, or water in bilges. By removing, cleaning, or draining the respected equipment we all can help eliminate invasive species from establishing in our waters.
Additional rules and educational materials regarding Aquatic Nuisance Species can be found in our 2012 Fishing regulations. These are available in PDF format at http://www.ifishillinois.org/
Prevention is the best way to manage invasive species. It is much more affordable to exclude species than to remove them once they are established. Because of the establishment of Asian carp, we need to prevent new populations from spreading and reduce existing populations. Because of the value of these fish as high quality, delicious food, Illinois DNR has developed one of the largest humanitarian efforts undertaken by the State of Illinois.
Illinois DNR’s ‘Target Hunger Now’ program http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/Pages/TargetHungerNow.aspx
is putting a high quality protein source, Asian carp, in food pantries across Illinois. The program has just begun and there are plans to spread it across Illinois. Asian carp are very delicious, high in Omega 3 fatty acids, and currently very affordable. The IDNR is pleased to be working with Feeding Illinois, Chef Philippe Parola, and American Water to help people facing food insecurity to find healthy food items.
Find tasty recipes for Asian carp at: http://www.iiseagrant.org/catalog/downlds_09/Asian%20Carp%20Cuisine_PrintQuality.pdf
Additional information on eating and cleaning carp is available at: http://www.iiseagrant.org/asiancarp/
Additional information regarding our Asian carp efforts in Illinois and across the region can be found at http://asiancarp.us
For more information on National Invasive Species Awareness Week: www.nisaw.org