1 (Introduce yourself, go around the room and have folks introduce... time.)

(Introduce yourself, go around the room and have folks introduce themselves if
Wisconsin’s AIS programs are supported by the Wisconsin Lakes Partnership.
(Briefly review agenda and any questions they have about the agenda. First is the
AIS in WI portion. Please edit the following species profile slides in this section
to only the species most pertinent to your area – more time should be spent on
the WCI Efforts section.)
When you look at how many miles of water we have in this state, you realize that
Wisconsin truly is a gathering of waters.
The numbers to focus on here, however, are the numbers of lakes and numbers of
boats – an estimated 1 million boaters are on WI waters each year!
Combine those two numbers and….welcome to the challenge!
Many are familiar with invasive species and the problems they cause, but want to
give a little introduction to make sure that all on the same page and up to speed.
Definition: Invasive species are non-native plants, animals and pathogens that may
cause economic, environmental and recreational harm, or affect human health.
Invasive because in native environments predators, parasites, pathogens, and
competitors keep these species in check and create a balance, but in a new
environment those checks and balances aren’t there.
These species can out-compete native species because they are aggressive,
reproduce quickly and mature early.
Invasive species can be introduced and moved around by a variety of activities such
-ballast water of ocean-going ships
-sport fish stocking
-accidental releases associated with bait business, aquaculture industry, aquarium
trade, and horticultural practices
Common theme is that they are primarily moved by humans.
Once in our waters and wetlands, aquatic invasive species rely on humans to spread
from one water body to another. This is often accomplished by “hitching a ride” on:
-boats, trailers equipment moved from one water to another
-bait buckets and livewells
-sea planes, SCUBA gear, personal watercraft
Accidental release from aquariums and water gardens also contributes to spread
Once introduced, some species can spread to adjacent waters without human help
(plant seeds/fragments, fish via tributaries)
Aquatic invasive species cause major economic, ecological and recreational impacts.
Economic impacts – The costs to control invasive species are extremely high.
Invasive species have the ability to harm native sport fish populations. The Great Lakes support a $4
billion fishing industry that is threatened by current and future invasives.
Tourism is one of Wisconsin’s largest industries and is dependant on Wisconsin’s lakes, streams, and
natural resources that attract travelers. However, aquatic invasive species are harming these
resources. Invasive plants form dense mats that make boating, fishing, and swimming difficult. Zebra
mussels encrust piers, lift stations, and boats, sometimes leading to costly repairs.
Individual lake organizations spend tens of thousands of dollars per year to simply manage (not
eradicate) invasive plant populations. For example, in 2003, it cost Wisconsin lake organizations
over $1 million to chemically treat lakes for Eurasian water-milfoil and curly-leaf pondweed. Power
plants and industries spend millions of dollars combating the zebra mussels that threaten to clog their
water intakes.
Ecological impacts- Invasive species have the ability to change habitats and threaten the plants and
animals that live in them.
For example, the Rusty crayfish eats small fish, insects, and fish eggs, and feeds on aquatic
vegetation, depriving native fishes of food and cover. Zebra mussels encrust the shells of our native
mussels, making it difficult for them to survive. These invasive mussels also consume the tiny plants
and animals that young fish rely on for food. Plants like Eurasian water-milfoil form dense mats that
shade out native plant species. Wetlands overrun with purple loosestrife no longer support animals
that depend on native plants for food and shelter.
Recreational impacts- As mentioned previously, Invasive plants form dense mats that make boating,
fishing, and swimming difficult. Zebra mussel shells that are washed up on beaches can cut the feet
of unsuspecting swimmers.
Next will look at a few of the worst offenders—remember that they are only a few
of the species that are causing problems in WI waters.
Zebra Mussels
-hardy, prolific mollusks that can clog water intakes, encrust piers and docks, and
damage native mussel populations.
-small filter feeders (adults 1-2 inches in size) that strain plankton from water
-clarify water—seems like a good thing, but reduces food for young fish, and can
lead to algae blooms
-adults and larvae can be spread in water or on equipment
-very costly to power utilities and municipalities (damage to water intakes)
Quagga mussels were introduced and are transported in the same ways as zebra
There is a wide range of temperatures and depths that quaggas can survive in –
typically tolerate temperatures from 39 to 68 degrees. However, exceptions have
been found.
They attach to soft substrates, as well as hard surfaces, and can fill in the spaces left
by zebra mussels. Most commonly found at 100 feet and deeper, they have been
found in depths from 3 to 541 feet…and are expected to go deeper over time.
While it’s difficult to tell the difference between zebra and quagga mussels visually,
there are some distinct differences. In addition to tolerating a wider range of
temperatures and depths, quagga mussels also have rounder sides than zebra
mussels. Quaggas have a convex underside, that actually curves inward, while
zebra mussels have quite flat undersides.
An experiment you can try to help you identify which mussel you have – try to
balance the mussel on its side. If it while lay on it’s side, it’s like a zebra mussel
(that has the characteristically flat underside). If the mussel keeps falling over and
will not balance, it’s likely a quagga.
Quagga mussels have gone from a relatively rare fine to the dominant invasive
mussel in Lake Michigan. They could prove to be much more disruptive than zebra
mussels because they are more effective filter feeders, and they can live and breed
in colder, deeper waters.
Eurasian Water-milfoil
-feathery underwater aquatic plant that can form thick mats in shallow areas of lakes
and rivers
-crowds out native plants, interferes with recreation
-can reproduce via small stem fragments, so can spread easily and over long
-control is very expensive and eradication is virtually impossible
Purple Loosestrife
-invasive perennial wetland plant 3-7 feet tall with purple flower spikes
-crowds out native wetland plants, reducing food and habitat for native wildlife
-spreading at a rate of close to 300,000 acres per year
-widely dispersed—found in all WI counties, but largest populations in southeastern
part of state, Wisconsin River, and Wolf & Fox drainage systems
While this map is based on older data, it still accurately represents the hot spots
where purple loosestrife is found in larger numbers and where there are fewer plants
Rusty crayfish –
-Introduced into WI by anglers using the crayfish as bait in the 1960s
-Rusty crayfish are quite well spread throughout WI – inhabits many inland streams
-Are extremely messy eaters. They act like mini-lawnmowers, snipping away at
vegetation. As a result, are often helpful in spreading aquatic invasives plants such
as Eurasian water-milfoil that spreads via fragmentation.
-Also have aggressive personalities. Many anglers tell stories of pulling up fishing
lines with rusty crayfish attached that are full of attitude. Rustys act this way
towards native crayfish and fish as well. They compete with these native species
for food and cover.
-Fun ID tip! One way you can identify a rusty crayfish is by the dark, rust-colored
spot on each side of the carapace. It looks as if someone had dark paint on their
fingers and then picked up the crayfish. While most rustys will have these
characteristic spots, how dark and evident the spots are will vary from crayfish to
While this map is based on older data, it still accurately represents the hot spots
where purple loosestrife is found in larger numbers and where there are fewer plants
Curly-leaf pondweed -Native to Eurasia, Africa, & Australia
-Introduced by hobbyists as plant to use in aquariums
-Begins growing earlier than many other aquatic plants. New plants form under the
ice in winter, making it one of the first invasive aquatic plants to emerge in spring.
By getting a head start in the spring, it can outcompete other plants.
-Prefers soft substrates and shallow water depths
-Mainly spreads using burr-like winter buds called turions.
-Can form dense mats on surface of lake that can interfere with recreation.
-In mid-summer, when most other plants are growing, curly-leaf dies off. The die
off can result in a loss of dissolved-oxygen and can increase nutrients that
contribute to algal blooms.
Spiny Waterflea
-important one to be aware of—still early enough to catch it and slow/stop spread—
only found in a few inland lakes
-tiny crustacean predators
-disrupt food chain
-not palatable to young fish—spine gets caught in gullet
-collect in masses and foul fishing lines and equipment
VHS was found in European freshwater trout dating back to the 1930s. The fish
virus was diagnosed for the first time ever in Great Lakes freshwater fish in 2005.
There are more than 25 fish species that it can kill, but there is no danger to humans
who handle or eat a fish that has VHS. This is first time a fish has affect so many
different species of fish.
No one is sure how the virus arrived in WI. It may have been introduced by fish
migrating from the Atlantic Coast or in the ballast water of ocean-going ships.
Fish infected with VHS shed the virus in their urine, milt, and ovarian fluids. Once
in the water, the virus can survive for at least 14 days.
Virus particles affect the gill tissue first, then move to organs and blood vessels.
Fish can also be infected by VHS when they eat a fish that has the virus.
Our state has a strong AIS Program made up of many partners. The mission is the
prevent the introduction and limit the spread of AIS, and you’ll be able to see how
watercraft inspection is an integral part of this effort.
Our AIS program has some key goals – you all are a part of achieving each of these.
The Wisconsin Lakes Partnership has many efforts underway to prevent and control
the spread of aquatic invasive species.
Education & Outreach:
-partnership with DNR, UW Extension, Wisconsin Association of Lakes, UW Sea
Grant, and counties
-working with citizens and resource professionals to teach boaters, anglers and other
water users how to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species
-many resources and educational tools available—publications, signs, displays,
presentations, etc
-also working with other audiences with the potential to introduce/spread species—
aquarium & pet trade, water gardeners
Watercraft Inspection: we’ll talk more about this next!
Citizen Lake Monitoring:
Both DNR staff and volunteers monitor lakes for invasive species—staff monitor
for spiny waterfleas and zebra mussel larvae. Volunteers monitor for adult zebra
mussels, invasive plants, rusty crayfish and invasive snails. Data collected by
volunteers are very important in tracking and mapping the spread of invasive species.
AIS Grants:
-Local efforts are a vital part of many of the state programs for aquatic invasives
-DNR grants to local entities are a way for the state to support those local initiatives
-State will cover up to 75% of cost of project
DNR provides a small amount of funding to the UW Madison Center for Limnology to
understand movement of aquatic invasive species. Goal is being able to direct prevention and
management resources efficiently. Model is based on three questions:
“Can invader X reach this water body?”
“If yes, can it survive and thrive there?”
“If yes, will it impact native species and recreation?”
We do have regulations that follow the AIS prevention steps. We’ll discuss some of those
regulations coming up.
So why is watercraft inspection a tool for AIS prevention? This map helps to
indicate how we’ve targeted efforts thus far.
Blue and red dots represent where inspections have taken place since CBCW began
(as reported into SWIMS). Watercraft inspections are effective in helping not only
protect lakes, but contain AIS in one lake and preventing the spread to other water
I’ve shared a lot of information about the AIS we have here in Wisconsin.
Fortunately for us, no matter what the species – curly leaf, rusty crayfish, the VHS
virus, or quagga mussels – the same prevention steps are used to ensure plants,
animals, and water are not being spread around from lake to lake.
Here are the preventative actions everyone can take to keep from spreading AIS.
(Walk through steps)
New law(s) passed in 2009 that make it illegal to NOT take the AIS prevention steps
listed on these slides - illegal to launch, load, or transport boat, trailer or boating
equipment with aquatic plants attached or with water in livewell or equipment. Can
be enforced by conservation wardens or local law enforcement officers. If
watercraft inspectors see and properly document a violation, they can write a report
which law enforcement personnel will follow up on.
These prevention steps are required by law under NR 40, which also included
classification of invasives.
We also have regulations about transport of water and live bait/fish. These are
termed the VHS Regulations because they can about as a result of the arrival of the
VHS virus to WI.
Break for questions; Watercraft Inspection Efforts up next.
Many of your heads are probably swimming with thoughts of all the negative effect
invasive species can have on our waters. The first part of this workshop focuses
mostly on the bad of AIS. Really, if you only take one thing away from our
discussions today, this is the most important thing to remember….
That we can and are making a difference in our efforts to protect WI lakes and
prevent the spread of AIS!
In 2003, some students in the Minocqua area noticed a plant growing on the surface
of a nearby lake. Since they needed a school project, they decided to find out what
this plant was and where it had come from. Their research on Eurasian water-milfoil
and how it is spread motivated them to share this information with others so that
other lakes could be protected. The students pinpointed the boat landings as the
prime place to share their message with the people who should hear it most –
boaters! The “Milfoil Masters”, as they called themselves, prepared boxes with
brochures and handouts on AIS and what we can do to prevent the spread to have on
hand while they stood at the boat landing. Their efforts attracted area lake group
members and were popular among the boaters who were impressed with their
concern for the lake. In 2004, the state of WI adopted their program, renaming
Clean Boats, Clean Waters.
Through Clean Boats, Clean Waters, folks learn about AIS, how they are spread,
and what we can do about it. Over 2,500 people have been trained since 2004.
Our inspectors come from a wide variety of groups! We have many passionate lake
group members; DNR Water Guards and LTEs; student interns with UW-Sea Grant,
UW-Oshkosh, and non-profit RC&Ds; and we have also partnered with the
Department of Workforce Development in the past.
Once your group decides that they want to participate in CBCW, the next step is to recruit volunteers
who are willing to be trained. There are a variety of ways to get the word out to your group
members about the opportunity to inspect. However, the most effective ways always seem to be
personal phone calls and face-to-face communication.
You’ll need to develop some materials to use to introduce your volunteers to CBCW and encourage
them to attend a training. An example of a handout you can use to give folks who are interested an
idea of what inspectors do is the “Volunteer Duties” document.
Someone from your group will also need to act as Coordinator for the inspectors, as they determine
what days and times they are available. It’s not a time-consuming job, but it is an important role for
someone who is willing to regularly communicate with the volunteers. Along with coordinating the
schedule, is the decision of where and when the watercraft inspectors will be out at the landings.
Consider the following – how many volunteers do you have? What landings are the busiest in the
summer? What days are they busiest? (probably weekends & holidays) What times are they
busiest? How will the time affect the type of boaters you will encounter?
If you have only a few volunteers, then inspect the landing that is busiest during prime boating times.
If you have quite a few volunteers, consider pairing them up and spreading them out among several
How to let volunteers know that they are appreciated is pretty logical – tell them
THANKS! Recognizing them in various ways will help ensure that they’ll be
around for next boating season.
Here is a summary of the materials that you’ll need to have with you at the boat
landing. (Encourage participants to share what they think the items are for and what
else could be on the list.)
So what exactly is involved in doing watercraft inspections? The duties of a
volunteer watercraft inspector can be broken down into three parts – educating
boaters about AIS and how they are spread, assisting boaters in inspecting their
boats and equipment for invasives, and collecting and reporting data about boater
behaviors and awareness.
Here’s the main message to share with the boaters and anglers you speak with at the
landings. These prevention steps are effective in preventing the spread of all
aquatic invasive species – and are therefore very valuable.
Now that NR 40 has come into effect, these preventive actions are now the law.
Aquatic plants and animals need to be removed before launching, after loading, and
before transporting on a public highway.
Sharing the prevention steps is the key message during inspections, but we want to
be sure and involve the boater in checking their boat for AIS, too. Walking around
the boat during your conversation is an efficient way to include this inspection. The
data form is designed to help lead you through your discussion with the boater by
providing questions and prompts - we’ll look at that in more detail next.
Offering the boater a SAH brochure and sticker is a good way to end your contact
with them. This way, if they have any questions later, they’ll have those items to
refer to. It’s a good idea to offer any anglers the “Fishing with Bait” brochure and
“WI Anglers Remember” sticker as these provide concise info on WI bait laws.
These stickers can serve as visual reminders to the boaters and anglers, also, helping
them remember their contact with you.
Let’s talk about the Watercraft Inspection Report form and go over how to use it
We have a new handout to accompany the Watercraft Inspection Report form – the
AIS Prevention Steps Prompt Handout. We heard from our inspectors that they felt
bogged down in data collection and less able to have an effective conversation with
boaters at the landing. So, we created this handout, as well as edited the data form,
to assist the inspector in having an educational conversation about the AIS
prevention steps.
This handout is intended to be useful when the inspector feels like they need
assistance in explaining the prevention steps. It also has blanks to allow for it to be
customized with local concerns. Let’s take a look at the handout.
What local concerns do you have that can be used to help express the AIS
prevention message? (discuss)
Data collection is one of the most important duties of a watercraft inspector. The
data collected by our volunteers and paid inspectors allows us to better understand
boater and angler behaviors – such as what prevention steps are followed most often
and where do boaters get most of their information on AIS. Also, this data is
tremendously important in justifying the CBCW program to legislators – it shows
just how much of a difference watercraft inspectors are making in increasing boater
awareness of AIS!
Here you can see graphs of statewide collected since 2004. This data is available on
the DNR website and can viewed by county, region, or even landing. Really neat
Quiz time! Let’s say you arrive at the landing to begin your inspections for the day
and see this sitting in the parking lot. What can you do?
Answer: Nothing, until the driver of the car comes back and begins to launch the
trailer back into the water to pick up the boat. Then, WI law is being violated. At
that time, you can introduce yourself and let the driver know that it is against the
law to enter the water with plants attached to a trailer.
Break and begin CBCW Conversational Approach Practice & Role-playing.
Summary of what has been found to assist in behavior change – because that’s
really what we’re going for here. Helping people get used to taking preventative
measures before and after boating.
List of effective elements that help make a watercraft inspection program
successful! New boat landing signs are available to post on landings – there are
sign-posting instructions and a boat landing survey that should be shared with any
inspectors who are going to put up new signs. The survey needs to be completed for
each new sign that is posted, and the survey information should be entered into
SWIMS or sent to Christal Campbell at the DNR Madison Central Office.
More positive steps that will assist in a successful program…
Leave you with some quotes, that really get at the heart of why inspections are
effective. Inspectors can and do make a difference in changing boater behavior and
preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species.
[Feel free to add presenter’s information also.]