|The Mountain-Prairie Region|
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
July 16, 2004
Contacts: Tina Proctor 303-236-4515
Campaign Launched to Stem
Agency fears Lewis and Clark boaters could unknowingly contribute to problem
This year the nation celebrates the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial, with many people – especially boaters – heading west to recreate parts of the explorers’ historic journey. But as boaters visit the West for this special celebration, they should be extra vigilant about cleaning their boats and trailers, where harmful zebra mussels and other invasive aquatic species can attach and live for days out of water.
Zebra mussels are an exotic nuisance species native to the Caspian region of western Russia. They were most likely introduced to the United States in the late 1980s in the ballast water of a foreign vessel. Since then, they have wreaked havoc by damaging water intake equipment for cities, smothering native shellfish, covering recreational watercraft hulls and motors and more. Zebra mussels have recently shown up in El Dorado Reservoir in Kansas where they number in the millions. A biological survey in 2003 in the Missouri River below Ft. Randall Dam and below Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota identified zebra mussel larvae floating in the water as well.
An estimated 6,300 plants and animals have been introduced to the United States. And while most of these non-native species are harmless, a small percentage leaves over a $100 million trail of damage every year.
Through cooperative activities of its Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) Task Force, the Service works with other federal agencies, state, tribes and private landowners to prevent and control aquatic nuisance species.
To help stem the western invasion of zebra mussels and other nuisance aquatic species during the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is distributing two public service announcements (PSAs) aimed at educating boaters and other travelers on ways to prevent spreading these unwanted species. These PSAs can be accessed for download at:
Produced through the ANS Task Force’s 100th Meridian Initiative (http://100thmeridian.org/) in partnership with the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, these PSAs can help boaters understand the importance of preventing the spread of aquatic nuisance species. The well-known spokesmen Richard Kind and Patrick Warburton, television actors whose Clark and Lewis characters have been a part of Alaska/Horizon Airlines advertisements for a number of years, share tips on how to clean your boat and gear before leaving your favorite body of water. Both PSAs are approximately 1 minute in length.
The campaign against invasive aquatic species will only be successful if people make a personal commitment. Here are some ways to help:
· Clean your boat and gear before leaving the body of water where you just recreated.
· Don’t toss left over bait into the water.
· Contact your local pet store with questions about safe disposal of exotic aquarium pets and plants.
· Volunteer with your local Fish and Wildlife Service facility.
· Visit www.protectyourwaters.net for more information on how to do your part.
· If you observe zebra mussels or other aquatic nuisance species in Western waters, report it toll-free by calling 1-800-437-2744. This will assure that the matter gets promptly referred to the appropriate federal, state and local experts for further investigation and action.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
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