Stop hitchhikers in their tracks this fall


Ducks and geese aren’t the only creatures on the move to a new home this fall. Aquatic invasive species are always eager to hitch a ride, and hunters have an important role to play in stopping them.

Invasive species such as purple loosestrife, zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil and faucet snails can be transported in waterfowl hunters’ boats, decoys or blind material and other equipment without the proper precautions, according to conservation ministries on both sides of the border.

“Hunters should take a few minutes to clean plants and mud, and drain water from duck boats, decoys, decoy lines, waders and push poles,” said Eric Katzenmeyer, Minessota Department of Natural Resources invasive species specialist. “It’s the key to avoiding the spread of aquatic invasive species in waterfowl habitat.”

Invasive species can damage habitat for waterfowl, fish and other wildlife, and can even cause waterfowl die-offs. For example, faucet snails can carry parasites that kill ducks.

The DNR and recommends the following to help slow the spread of aquatic invasive species:

  • Use elliptical, bulb-shaped or strap decoy anchors

  • Drain water and remove all plants and animals from boats and equipment

  • Remove all plants and animals from anchor lines and blind materials

  • Check compartments or storage in boats or kayaks that aren’t in use the rest of the year

Also, waterfowl hunters who want to use cattails or other plants for camouflage must cut them above the water line if they want to move them from lake to lake. They should not cut or move the seedheads of emergent non-native Phragmites, which is an invasive plant species in Ontario and a restricted noxious weed in Minnesota, also known as common reed. To kill or remove invasive species seeds or young zebra mussels that are difficult to see, the Canadian Council of Invasive Species recommends hunters and anglers Clean, Drain and Dry all boats and equipment between locations. Cleaning can be done by hand or with a pressure washer. Hot water – approximately 60 C – is even more effective.

the MNRF, MNDNR and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters  have  a series of short videos that show the various methods for preventing the spread of invasive species while hunting waterfowl.

Waterfowl hunters aren’t the only ones who should be vigilant about the spread of invasive species. Trappers also should clean their equipment before moving it to another body of water.

“Trappers of muskrats and other furbearers should also keep the ‘Clean in-Clean out’ mantra in mind,” said DNR invasive species specialist Tim Plude. “All traps, lines, boots and waders should be cleaned after each use to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.”

More information is available at in Minnesota and at in Ontario.