Invasive species also known as aquatic nuisance species are something everyone who enjoys the outdoors should be aware of, especially anglers. Aquatic nuisance species are non-native plants and animals which disrupt the natural ecosystem. They are known to spread by “hitchhiking” with unsuspecting outdoor enthusiasts, which is why it is important to be able to recognize these species and understand how to prevent their spread.
The top 3 threats to Kansas aquatic ecosystems are zebra mussels, Asian carp, and white perch. Zebra mussels have a distinctive brown and white stripes, hence their name. You will likely see these if you flip over a rock next to a shoreline, however, what makes them particularly dangerous is that their eggs are impossible to see with the naked eye and are notorious for sticking to braided fishing line, as well as other materials. Zebra mussels filter water for plankton, which can lead to harmful algae blooms, clog pipes by forming colonies in them, and eat up larval fish and native mussels’ food sources.
In some areas blue catfish have been reintroduced because they feed on zebra mussels, but these mussels still pose a massive threat. To help prevent their spread, it is recommended to thoroughly clean and dry all equipment between every lake and river.
If you catch an Asian carp, white perch, or another invasive fish species do not throw it back. On a similar note, to preserve the peace of the ecosystems you interact with do not move live bait from one body of water to another or even up and down stream and avoid dumping bait at all, find an appropriate trash receptacle.
Taking care of our land and waterways is not only easy, but necessary to ensure future generations will be able to enjoy wading, paddling, and angling. Do your part in stopping aquatic nuisance species.