Fisheries Resources
Pacific Region

Aquatic Invasive Species


What they are: Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are non-native plants and animals introduced into a water body with the potential to harm the environment, people and/or the economy. The Pacific Region hosts a number of AIS and is vulnerable to a hostile takeover by many more.
Zebra mussel on native mussel

What USFWS is doing about it: For aquatic invaders, the Fisheries Program of the USFWS co-chairs the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force, where we work in coordination with other federal agencies and partners to prevent and control aquatic nuisance species and serve as a significant source of federal expertise and support for action-oriented partnerships.

In the Pacific Region, the 100th Meridian Initiative to prevent the western spread of the zebra mussel is one of our most important undertakings. We also provide funding to individual states (Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Hawaii) to help implement statewide aquatic nuisance species plans and also fund research on aquatic invasive species prevention and nuisance control. For example, USFWS is working in partnership with the University of Idaho and other organizations to reduce the spread and impacts of New Zealand Mud Snails.

Why you should care: AIS directly harm native species and cause billions of dollars in damages. For example, zebra mussels alone (which do not yet occur in the Pacific Region) have contributed to population crashes among native fish and wildlife in the Great Lakes and cost that region hundreds of millions of dollars each year. After habitat loss, invasive species are considered the second most significant threat to native species, and have even caused certain native species to become extinct. Nearly two-thirds of all endangered fish and clams have been impacted by invasive non-native species. In addition to posing threats to species, hydropower generation, municipal water supplies and agricultural irrigation can also suffer tremendous losses from aquatic invaders.



For more information: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also supports a nationwide network of aquatic invasive species experts to help coordinate with our regional and local partners. In the Pacific Region, the "Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) Coordinators" are:

Paul Heimowitz, Regional AIS Coordinator
911 NE 11th Avenue, 6E
Portland, OR 97232-4181
Phone: (503) 872-2763
Dan Clark, Pacific Islands Invasive Species Coordinator
Phone: (808) 792-9400
Kevin Aitkin, Washington State AIS Coordinator
Phone: (360) 753-9508

What you can do: Make sure you're not spreading AIS accidentally. Prevention tips and other helpful information can be found at "Protect Your Waters," a USFWS website with the latest tips and news about aquatic invaders. If you suspect you've found a new AIS, please report it by calling 1-877-STOPANS and a USFWS biologist will investigate. Learn about two AIS species in the Pacific region below and download printable ID cards to carry with you.

Mitten Crab

How to Identify a Mitten Crab:
-Only crab in fresh waters of North America
-Claws equal in size and "hairy" (juveniles may not have"hairy" claws)
-Four lateral carapace spines (last one smaller); notch between eyes
-Carapace up to 4 inches (100mm) wide; light brown to olive green in color

Download a Mitten Crab ID card here.

How to Identify a New Zeland Mud Snail:

-NZMS average 1/8 inch in size but may be as small as a grain of sand. A plate covers the opening of the gray, brown or black cone-shaped shell with 5 or 6 whorls.
- They live in all types of waters, from silted river bottoms to clear mountain streams to estuaries.
-Temperature tolerance 32 - 77°F (66°F optimum).
-Reproduce by cloning, so it only takes ONE.
-Densities of over 500,000 per square yard have been reported in rivers in Yellowstone National Park.
-Can survive for days out of water on moist gear.

Download a NZMS ID card here.

New Zealand Mud Snails c.Montana State University

Connect With Us

rss icon RSS Follow Us At FlickrFlickr
Follow Us At FacebookFaceBook Follow Us At TwitterTwitter
webcam icon Webcam Follow Us At YouTubeYouTube





Last updated: December 9, 2013

Pacific Region Fisheries Resources
Pacific Region Home

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Home Page | Department of the Interior  |  | No Fear Act | About the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  | Accessibility  | Privacy  | Notices  | Disclaimer  | FOIA
February 8, 2011