Here's a photo of me doing my best, apparently, to prevent the spread of invasive species. You see, the non-profit conservation group Wildlife Forever (WF) has launched a campaign encouraging duck hunters to wash their dogs, lest our furry mutts spread invasive aquatic species such as the dreaded zebra mussel. WF also advises proper cleaning of waders, decoys and boats prior to transportation using the "clean, drain, dry" technique.
“Waterfowl hunters have been underrepresented and undereducated about invasive species," Pat Conzemius, Wildlife Forever's Conservation director, told the Great Lakes Echo. Conzemius says about 500,000 duck hunters frequent the Great Lakes region, an area in which invasive species are arguably a greater threat than man-made pollution to the health of the waters.
Aquatic hitchhikers such as Asian carp, milfoil and zebra mussels cling to animals and people, often until they arrive at an unaffected body of water. Then they proliferate like mad, killing fish and closing access for hunters and anglers. Therefore waterfowlers are being encouraged to do all they can to prevent the spread.
Okay, so let's be realistic. Duck hunting can be a brutal, fatiguing endeavor—this is certainly true of the Great Lakes region—and it already has plenty of post-hunt chores we all sometimes put off after a particularly rough hunt. Be honest: Do you always clean your gun when you get home? However, invasive species are a major threat in many areas, so if you're hunting in one of them, do the best you can to ensure your waders, decoys and dogs aren't toting any unwanted passengers.
WF's campaign, which will appear on billboards and in broadcast media, is funded by a $233,830 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.