Tournament Anglers Battle Invasive Species
Brooklyn Center, MN – Wildlife Forever granted $80,000 in funding this past spring to seven Great Lake states for media outreach alerting sportsmen and vacationers to Clean – Drain – Dry their boats to help Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!Fifty highway billboards along major travel routes show what can happen if invasive species go unchecked; contaminating boats and fishing gear, in some cases, a big ticket. Advertisements in popular outdoor publications and angler websites depict images of dead and rotting fish when foreign fish viruses are introduced.
This past June at the Master Walleye Circuit tournament in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, tournament anglers had several different invasive species to be on the watch for; Zebra Mussels, Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) and milfoil were all present in the lake. And, unfortunately when anglers entered the harbor and attempted to launch their boat, they discovered milfoil had choked the lagoon, making access nearly impossible.
Fortunately, tournament anglers and event organizers are becoming more informed of invasive species and understand the dangers of spreading them. And, by arming the anglers with tools, resources and knowledge, they can go back to their communities and help spread the message to other anglers.
“Invasives are the most critical issue facing our inland fisheries. If people can’t fish because invaders choke their fishing spot, we’re going to lose more than a fishable lake. Outreach and education are critical to empower anglers to help stop the spread.” said Pat Conzemius, Director, Wildlife Forever invasive species program.
Outreach funding will again be available in 2011. A cash match is required with emphasis on mass media. Help reach out to anglers and boaters on your lake this summer and remind them to Clean – Drain – Dry their boats and equipment.