Invasive Species Program staff collaborate with Alaska's National Wildlife Refuge, the State of Alaska and other partners to protect Alaska's lands and waters by working to detect invasive species invasive species
An invasive species is any plant or animal that has spread or been introduced into a new area where they are, or could, cause harm to the environment, economy, or human, animal, or plant health. Their unwelcome presence can destroy ecosystems and cost millions of dollars.

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infestations while they’re still relatively small and have the highest chance of being successfully eradicated. We survey terrestrial, freshwater, and marine environments for invasive plants and animals. Survey methods include activities such as raking lakes for the submerged aquatic plant Elodea, surveying roads for invasive plants like white sweetclover or orange hawkweed, and setting traps for invasive green crabs.

The Conservation Genetics Labin Anchorage is refining existing genetic analyses by developing or verifying genetic markers for invasive species not yet present in Alaska to detect invasive species environmental DNA (eDNA) from water samples.

Data from early detection surveys are entered into databases such as the Alaska Exotic Plants Information Clearinghouse. Anybody can help with early detection efforts by reporting plants or animals that you may be unfamiliar with to 1-877-INVASIV, ADF&G Online Reporter, or via the Alaska Invasives ID app.

Early Detection Projects Across the National Wildlife Refuges:

  • Arctic: We surveyed roadsides for white sweetclover and other invasive plants along the Dalton Highway and other avenues leading into the Refuge. We also surveyed high-risk lakes for invasive aquatic plants like Elodea. Local contact: Heather Bartlett

  • Alaska Maritime: We visited several islands in 2021 to look for signs of a rat infestation such as tracks and scat. Some of the islands visited were known to have rats prior. Several islands were unknown to have rat infestations but were within swimming distance from the infested island. For islands known to have rats, we set trap lines to collect samples. For islands with an unknown status, no rat sign was detected. Local contact: Lauren Flynn
  • Alaska Peninsula and Becharof: During summer of 2021, we conducted terrestrial invasive plant surveys at critical access points, roadways, and areas with high human disturbance around King Salmon and Naknek. We also surveyed for Elodea and other invasive aquatic plants in lakes and streams with a high concentration of floatplane traffic and water-based recreation on the Refuge. Local contact: Danny Moss.
  • Innoko: Survey efforts were not completed in 2021. Local contact: Karin Bodony.
  • Izembek: During summer of 2021, we conducted terrestrial invasive plant surveys at critical access points, roadways, and areas with high human disturbance around the Refuge and Cold Bay. We also surveyed for Elodea and other aquatic plants in lakes and streams on the Refuge with a high concentration of floatplane traffic and water-based recreation. We looked for marine invertebrates, especially invasive crabs, by setting traps around the Cold Bay pier. Local contact: Alison Williams
  • Kanuti: Terrestrial plant surveys were done along the Dalton Highway and at potential points of introduction into the Refuge during summer of 2021. We paid special attention to looking at whether white sweetclover had colonized gravel beds downstream of the Refuge. We also surveyed for Elodea and other invasive aquatic plants in lakes and streams with a high concentration of floatplane traffic on the Refuge. To date, no Elodea has been found in sampled lakes. Local contact: Chris Harwood.
  • Kenai: Efforts continue to monitor for invasive Northern pike in the Miller Creek Watershed post-treatment. Survey efforts have not yet been done. Local contact: Matt Bowser
  • Kodiak: In 2021, coastal surveys for terrestrial plants were completed across 12 different locations on and off Refuge lands. Survey locations were based on critical control points such as at the Visitor Center and the Buskin River watershed. Local contact: Bill Pyle
  • Koyukuk and Nowitna: Survey efforts were not completed in 2021. Local contact: Karin Bodony.
  • Selawik: Survey efforts were not completed in 2021. Local contact: Bill Carter.
  • Tetlin: In the summer of 2021, we conducted invasive species survey along the Alaska Highway and Tetlin Refuge border to evaluate the spread of invasive species, in particular looking for white sweetclover and bird vetch. We also surveyed waysides, trails, Refuge bunkhouses, and campgrounds. Several lakes were surveyed for Elodea and other aquatic vegetation. Surveys are planned for summer of 2022 to look for Elodea in other remote lakes as well as for terrestrial plants in the fiber line right of way. Local contact: Ross Flagen.
  • Togiak: Between July - October of 2021, we surveyed for Elodea and other invasive aquatic plants in lakes and streams using aerial surveys, water surface surveys, and fragment searches. We also utilized a lake rake to collect aquatic plants for identification. Surveying and identification efforts for aquatic invasive plants have been conducted on the Refuge annually since 2018. Local contact: Kara Hilwig.
  • Yukon Delta: Survey efforts were not completed in 2021. Efforts planned for 2022 to do terrestrial plant surveys on Nunavak. Local contact: Kyra Neal.
  • Yukon Flats: In 2021, we traveled downstream by boat from Fort Yukon to Circle in order to survey gravel bars for invasive plants. In particular, we looked for white sweetclover to better understand the reach of its spread. Invasive plants were not found, but challenging water conditions made accessing several of the planned sites difficult. Local contact: Delia Vargas Krestinger

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A half dozen large silver fish jumping out of the water to a height of six feet.
Aquatic invasive species cause tremendous harm to our environment, our economy, and our health. They can drive out and eat native plants and wildlife, spread diseases, and damage infrastructure. We work to protect our waterways and the communities that depend on them from the threat of invasive...
A large, wet, furry brown rodent standing on grassy land next to a body of water
Invasive species are non-native plants, animals and other living organisms that thrive in areas where they don’t naturally live and cause (or are likely to cause) economic or environmental harm, or harm to human, animal or plant health. Invasive species degrade, change or displace native habitats,...
A bright blue sky obstructed by fluffy white clouds reflected off of a stream shot from inside a kayak
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages an unparalleled network of public lands and waters called the National Wildlife Refuge System. With more than 570 refuges spanning the country, this system protects iconic species and provides some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities on Earth.


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Arctic National Wildlife Refuge sustains people, wildlife, and fish in the northeastern corner of Alaska, a vast landscape of rich cultural traditions and thriving ecological diversity. It is located on the traditional homelands of the Iñupiat and Gwichʼin peoples. Approximately the size of...
A pair of Horned Puffins with brightly colored yellow and red bills perches on a cliff near their nest. The cliff in the background is blurred.
The Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge stretches from the spectacular volcanic islands of the Aleutian chain to the Inside Passage, and north to the Chukchi Sea, providing essential habitat for marine mammals and some 40 million seabirds, representing more than 30 species.
Sloped mountains rise from a river valley.
Alaska Peninsula Refuge presents a breathtakingly dramatic landscape made up of active volcanoes, towering mountain peaks, rolling tundra and rugged, wave-battered coastlines. The Bristol Bay side of the Refuge consists primarily of tundra, lakes and wetlands. From these coastal lowlands, the...
Sunset over the shore of a large river.
From vast stretches of black spruce forest to vernal pools and slow moving rivers, the Innoko National Wildlife Refuge is home to abundant wildlife from the smallest shrew to huge moose and everything in between. Established in 1980, this refuge located in western Alaska on the traditional...
Kanuti Flats aerial view with spotted bodies of water.
The Athabascan name for Kanuti is "Kk'toonootne" which translates to "well traveled river by both man and animals." Kanuti Refuge is about the size of the state of Delaware and straddles the Arctic Circle, with approximately a third of the Refuge above the Circle and two-thirds below it. Kanuti...
a kodiak brown bear sow with three large cubs stand on the banks of a lake
Homeland of the Alutiiq Sugpiaq peoples, Kodiak Archipelago is located in the Gulf of Alaska, 30 miles from the nearest mainland coast, across the notoriously temperamental Shelikof Strait. Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge spans almost two million acres and covers more than 2/3rds of Kodiak Island,...
A boat heads down a river lined by forests and mountains.
The Dena’ina people call this special place “Yaghanen” - the good land. It's also known as the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.  From ice fields and glaciers to tundra, forests, and coastal wetlands, the Kenai Refuge is often called “Alaska in miniature." Biodiversity is unusually high for this...
Still water providing a mirror image of the clouds and blue sky above with vegetation on both left and right banks of the water with mountains on the horizon.
Winding across the refuge, the Nowitna River forms a broad floodplain that comes alive each spring with the arrival of thousands of migratory songbirds and waterfowl. The river passes through a scenic 15 mile canyon with peaks up to 2,100 feet. Whether you come to fish, hunt, or just enjoy the...
A vivid green streak of light across the sky marks the Northern Lights - the aurora borealis - over Koyukuk National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.
Koyukuk Refuge lies within the extensive floodplain of the Koyukuk River of interior Alaska, about 270 miles west of Fairbanks and contains a unique geological feature: the Nogahabara Sand Dunes. The refuge's rich wetlands combine with lowland boreal forests of spruce, birch and aspen to support a...
Eight caribou stand in a row in the snow on Selawik Refuge. Behind them, blue and white mountains emerge.
Straddling the Arctic Circle in a remote corner of northwestern Alaska lies Selawik Refuge, a special place of extreme climate, free-flowing rivers, and abundant wildlife. Here where the boreal forest of interior Alaska meets the Arctic tundra, thousands of waterfowl, shorebirds, fish, insects and...
a sweeping view of trees in a valley with mountains in the distance
Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge is nestled within the Upper Tanana River Valley, the abundant wetlands and forests of the Refuge welcome thousands of birds and people crossing the border into Alaska each year. The public lands and waters of the Upper Tanana offer opportunity for people to enjoy...
Two small deep blue lakes in a steep, verdant valley with snow-capped mountains in the distance
Dominated by the Ahklun Mountains in the north and the cold waters of Bristol Bay to the south, Togiak National Wildlife Refuge hosts a kaleidoscope of landscapes. The natural forces that have shaped this land range from the violent and powerful to the geologically patient. Earthquakes and...
Male common eiders in the water at Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska
Alaska's Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge is vast and productive. The refuge nestles between Alaska’s largest rivers, the Yukon and the Kuskokwim Rivers, where the tundra meets the Bering Sea. Its diversity of habitats support one of the largest aggregations of waterbirds in the world. The...
a lynx walks warily through the snow between willow shrubs
Yukon Flats Refuge is the nation’s third largest wildlife refuge. With the Brooks Range to the north and the jagged limestone peaks of the White Mountains to the south, this refuge encompasses the so-called "Yukon Flats" - a vast fire-dependent area of wetlands, forest, bog, and low-lying ground...