Officials warn of spreading invasive species
As the weather warms up, more critters are on the move... and some of them don’t belong here.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials say invasive species may be a particular concern in the Great Lakes State.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service identifies the Great Lakes region as one of the areas with the most invasive species.
However, Michigan does not necessarily have the most invasives of the all the states in the region.
Don Uzarski, director of the Central Michigan University Institute for Great Lakes research, said th
“It's important to remember that not only do we have 70% of all Great Lakes coastal wetlands in the US, but 73% of that 70% are in Michigan," Uzarski said. "You would expect that we would find the most invasive species in Michigan versus other states, but that's not always the case."
The CMU Institute for Great Lakes Research does an annual survey of random sites in the Great Lakes Basin. The survey shows an average of about 3.4 invasive plants per site in Michigan and 6.5 per site in New York. Invasive invertibrates, mostly mussles and snails, are on a smaller scale with an average 0.8 per site in Michigan, 0.6 in Ontario and 0.4 in New York.The ranking of sites with the most invasive fish is Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio and Ontario.
"Our Great Lakes have over 180, exotic non native species in the Great Lakes," Uzarski said. "We get on average a new one every six months, basin wide,not just Michigan.”
Joanne Foreman, invasive species communications coordinator with the DNR, said invasive species awareness is especially important in Michigan due to the Great Lakes and thousands of acres of forests.
“We have a lot more to be concerned about regarding aquatic invasive species because they can certainly change not only the ecosystems of those waters, but also our ability to use them both for recreation and for business," Foreman said. "The health of the forests is largely dependent on us preventing invasive species that can also destroy full species of trees."
Officials say to help fight the spread of invasives, you can adopt eco-friendly habits like cleaning boats and outdoor equipment between each use.
“Everyone can do something to prevent invasive species from taking over agricultural and natural environments," said North American Invasive SPecies Management Association Director Belle Bergner. "We encourage organizations and individuals to take leadership teaching their community about how to solve invasive species issues locally."