Week of May 17 , 2004

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National

Invasive frogs in San Francisco pond evade eradication efforts

SAN FRANCISCO — California biologists are alarmed over the latest invasive species to take up residence in this city: African clawed frogs, who eat just about anything and tend to breed like crazy. Even worse, they're kind of cute and, thus, more likely to be whisked away by children and dumped into other ponds, where they spread even more.

 

Native to Kenya, the frogs are able to live under ice, in the ground, and in salty water. They alter ecosystems by gobbling up insects, fish, lizards, and even birds who fit into their large, tongueless mouths. They also burrow into the ground to survive dry conditions and prey on the state's endangered red-legged frog.

 

The African frogs, outlawed as pets in California several years 

ago, are used in medical and biological research. Some theorize that researchers might have released the animals into Golden Gate Park's Lily Pond and parts of Southern California to save the frogs from destruction. Pet stores and collectors wary of being slapped with fines of up to $1,000 also might have released them into local creeks and ponds.

 

But getting rid of the frogs has been a problem for the cash-strapped California Department of Fish and Game. A plan to dry out Lily Pond was canceled last summer just as a crew was readying pipes to flush the pond into the sewer, said Susan Ellis, the Department of Fish and Game's invasive species coordinator. Ellis said the department had to divert funds to species that posed bigger threats, such as the voracious northern pike that has taken over Lake Davis near the Sierra Nevada community of Portola.


Minnesota

Dumping of Aquarium Fish Cause Trouble in Duluth

Trout stream and Lake Superior at risk

Rock Pond on the campus of the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) is filled with hundreds of goldfish.  While not as nasty as the snakehead fish found in some Maryland ponds, goldfish are just as illegal to release into local waterways.  The problem is that the two-acre pond drains into Tischer Creek, a designated trout stream, which flows into Lake Superior.

 

"Unfortunately, Rock Pond appears to be the local dump for unwanted fish by aquarium or water garden owners," said Doug Jensen, Aquatic Invasive Species Information Center coordinator for the University of Minnesota Sea Grant Program.  "The goldfish indicate that aquarium releases are going on, and more dangerous species could get into local waters unless we make people aware of the issue," said Jensen.

 

"Fortunately, there's a remedy for the Rock Pond situation because it's a constructed pond with an outflow that needs rebuilding. If similar releases occurred in other area lakes or rivers, attempts to eradicate or control the spread would be extremely costly."

 

To eradicate the goldfish, koi, and rusty crayfish, Rock Pond is being pumped dry this week. Fish remaining after the

drawdown will be collected for composting. A group worked for a year considering alternatives to this method and how to address possible downstream effects of the pond draining. They investigated giving the fish away or having a local pet store sell them, but ran up against prohibitive regulations.

 

The effort is costing UMD $50,000 not including the staff time from eight departments and cooperating agencies. The pond should refill naturally from runoff and rain later in the season.  Public awareness of this issue is being communicated to student residents by e-mail, fliers posted in the resident halls, and signs near the pond before the students leave the dorms for the summer.

 

From snakeheads to giant salvinia, over 38 species of unwanted fish and dozens of plants, crayfish, and snails have been accidentally released into fresh and marine waters of the U.S. by aquarium and water garden owners.  Releases of potentially invasive species can impact the economy, recreation, and the environment.  They can cause impaired water quality, clogged waterways, competition and hybridization with native species, and diseases.  While environmental and economic consequences for most species are unknown, impacts of some infestations have cost millions of dollars for control and management.

 


New York

DEC to prepare Management Plan for West Canada Lake Wilderness Area

Public Meetings Will Be Held in Piseco Lake on June 22 and in Inlet on June 23

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Erin M. Crotty today announced that DEC will begin development of a unit management plan (UMP) for the West Canada Lake Wilderness Area and three associated primitive areas.  Located in the southwestern portion of the Adirondack Park, the West Canada Lake Wilderness Area represents approximately 168,920 acres of State Forest Preserve lands in the Towns of Arietta, Indian Lake, Lake Pleasant and Morehouse in Hamilton County and the Town of Ohio in Herkimer County.

 

Two public meetings will be held on the West Canada Lake Wilderness Area.  The first  will be held on Tuesday, June 22 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Community Center in Piseco Lake.  The second will be held on Wednesday, June 23 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Town Hall in Inlet.  The open houses will provide an opportunity for the public to meet with DEC staff and share their thoughts, ideas, and suggestions regarding management of State lands within this particular unit.  This will be the first of many opportunities for the public to be involved in the planning process.

 

The West Canada Lake Wilderness Area is roughly bordered on the north by the Moose River Plains Wild Forest and lands of Finch Pruyn in the vicinity of Snowy Mountain and Squaw Mountain; on the east by Route 30 and lands of International Paper Company and the Jessup River Wild Forest; on the south by private lands north of Route 8, the south Branch of West Canada Creek and lands of the Ferris Lake Wild Forest; on the west by West Canada Creek and private lands north and east of Honnedaga Lake.

                                                                                                                                   

The Wilderness Area’s major attribute is its numerous lakes and ponds, including Spruce Lake, Whitney Lake, the Cedar Lakes, as well as the wilderness’s namesakes, the West Canada Lakes,  which were once the home of the famous Adirondack hermit French Louie.  The unit’s terrain ranges from swamp flats and rolling hills to steep mountains such as Panther, Lewey and Fort Noble.  The peaks of Pillsbury and Snowy Mountains lie just outside of the wilderness, but the views from the fire towers that reside there take in the West Canada Lake Wilderness Area.  Approximately 28 miles of the famed Northville-Placid trail pass through the wilderness. Hiking and hunting are popular activities, but the area is well known for its native brook trout fishing.

 

The 2,935-acre West Canada Mountain Primitive Area is the largest of the three primitive areas that will be included in the management plan. Located in the Town of Morehouse on the western side of the unit, it is bordered on three sides by private lands.  Buell Brook Primitive Area is located in the Town of Indian Lake in the northeastern portion of the unit and the Wilmurt Club Road Primitive Area is located in the Town of Morehouse in the southern portion of the unit.  Both are road

corridors that access private inholdings.

 

The West Canada Lake Wilderness Area contains few designated trails, thus providing some of the remotest lands and waters in the Adirondacks.  Maintaining the remoteness will be evaluated against the desire for additional public access to the area.  Other issues to be addressed in the planning process include the identification of appropriate recreational opportunities, future status of the Cedar Lakes Dam, the management and protection of the wilderness fishery resource, and the location of possible additional trails, including a portion of the North Country Scenic Trail.

 

A UMP must be completed before significant new recreational facilities, such as trails, camping sites, and parking areas can be constructed.  The plans involve an analysis of the natural features of an area and the ability of the land to accommodate public use.  The planning process will culminate in a series of management actions to be implemented over a five-year period.  Possible adverse impacts from the UMP may include temporary minor erosion, increased hiking traffic in certain areas, and minor noise impacts during the construction of new facilities.

 

DEC has primary responsibility for developing management plans for each Forest Preserve unit, as identified under the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (APSLMP).  The APSLMP guides the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) in developing classifications for Forest Preserve lands in the Adirondack Park as Wild Forest, Primitive, Canoe or Wilderness, which define the range of uses allowed within each classification.  The APSLMP places further management guidelines on the allowable uses and these guidelines define the basis for developing management plans for each Forest Preserve unit.

 

In the Adirondacks, UMPs are developed by DEC staff in consultation with APA staff, which are responsible for ensuring that the plans are consistent with the APSLMP.  Upon completion of the inventory of natural resources, analysis of recreational use and review of public comments, a draft plan will be prepared.  Once the draft plans are published, they are widely distributed for public review and comment, and a public meeting is scheduled.  Typically the planning process takes about two years.

 

Any interested individual or organization wanting to be included on a mailing list for information about the development of the unit management plan or wishing to submit comments is encouraged to contact: Senior Forester Eric J. Kasza, NYSDEC, 225 North Main Street, Herkimer, New York 13350, (315)866-6330.   In addition, a special e-mail address has been established for receiving public comments on any UMPs being developed by DEC in Region 5, which encompasses central and eastern Adirondack counties.  The address is r5ump@gw.dec.state.ny.us 


Pennsylvania

Launch Ramps to be Closed for Renovations

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will be temporarily closing two public access areas so that construction crews can replace existing boat launch ramps.  The Limerick Access Area on the Schuylkill River in Montgomery County and the Monongahela Access on the Monongahela River, Washington County, will be closed to

public use starting May 24.  Both projects, which involve installing cast-in-place concrete launch ramps, are expected to be completed by late June.

 

Boaters and anglers looking for alternative launch sites while these sites are closed can visit the “County Guides” section of the PFBC’s web site at www.fish.state.pa.us .


Public Invited to Learn About Stream Restoration Plan

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is inviting public participation in a meeting on a habitat restoration plan for a half-mile section of Big Spring Creek, Cumberland County.  The meeting will be held May 13 beginning at 7 p.m. at Freemont's Restaurant, 2 West Big Spring Avenue in Newville.

 

The stretch of stream to be discussed runs through Commission property and is the dividing line between North

Newton and Penn Townships.  The restoration plan was developed jointly by David Putnam of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Dr. Richard Hey, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom; Rivers Unlimited Consulting, and Fish and Boat Commission staff.

 

The Commission has budgeted $50,000 to develop and implement this plan and is anticipating work to begin in late May.  The objective of this project will be to improve in-stream habitats so that native brook trout populations will be enhanced.


Wisconsin

Boaters reminded to avoid spreading invasive species

Survey suggests more taking precautions

MADISON – With the fishing season under way, state invasive species experts are encouraged that a recent survey shows more Badger State boaters are taking precautions to avoid accidentally spreading zebra mussels, Eurasian water-milfoil and other invasive species to new inland waters.

 

Fully 80% of the Wisconsin boat owners who reported moving their boats to different waterbodies in 2003 said they took special steps to rid their boat, boat trailer, livewell, bait bucket or other boating accessory of any potential invasive aquatic species, according to a fall 2003 state study. That compares to 39 percent in a similar study conducted in 1994.

 

The major way that invasive aquatic plant and animal species are introduced to new waters is aboard boats, boat trailers, and bait buckets coming from an infested lake or river. Plant fragments can cling to boat trailers and hulls, and juvenile zebra mussels, spiny water fleas and other minuscule invaders can stowaway in livewells and bait bucket water.

 

In 2003, three new inland lakes were confirmed to have established populations of zebra mussels and 30 new waters were confirmed with infestations of Eurasian water-milfoil, two of the most problematic aquatic invasive species identified in Wisconsin waters.

 

Lakes with newly confirmed zebra mussel colonies are Powers Lake in Kenosha County, Pike Lake in Washington County and Golden Lake in Waukesha County, bringing to 47 the number of inland waters infested with zebra mussels since these thumbnail-sized, stripped mollusks were first sighted in Wisconsin in 1990 in Racine’s harbor. They form dense clusters that attach to hard surfaces, and can decimate native mussel populations, decrease the oxygen that fish and other aquatic creatures need, and worsen smelly, unsightly algae blooms.

 

In 2003, 30 new inland waters were confirmed as having

infestations of Eurasian water-milfoil, an aquatic plant that forms dense mats at the water’s surface, hampering boating, fishing and swimming. They bring to about 400 the number of waterbodies infested with the plant since the 1960s.

 

A sense of personal responsibility and a desire to keep invasive species out of Wisconsin lakes and streams were the top reasons boaters gave for taking precautionary measures. Roughly 40 percent of all respondents said they boated in 2003 on waters they knew were infested with an invasive species, said Mandy Beall, who coordinates aquatic invasive species outreach efforts for DNR and University of Wisconsin-Extension.

 

To help boaters understand what to do, DNR is supplementing its watch cards, posters, press releases and other outreach materials with an expanded effort to directly reach boaters. The agency is teaming up with the Wisconsin Association of Lakes and the University of Wisconsin-Extension to train volunteers as watercraft inspectors to educate boaters how to inspect their boat and remove any aquatic invasive species. About 20 workshops are planned in for this spring and summer.

 

In addition, up to 20 seasonal watercraft inspectors will be stationed at boat launches at popular, infested waters, and for the first time, UW-Sea Grant in Manitowoc will have watercraft inspectors out on Lake Michigan and Green Bay educating boaters about prevention steps. Those steps are:

 

Before leaving a boat launch:

 ● Inspect and remove aquatic plants, animals and mud from boat, trailer and equipment.

 ● Drain all water from livewell, bilge, motor, etc..

 ● Dispose of unused bait in the trash, not in the water.

 ● Wash boat and equipment with high-pressure or hot water OR

 ● Dry boat and equipment thoroughly for five days.

 


Garlic Mustard - Spring a good time to remove it and other invasive plants

MADISON – If people look in nearby woodlots this spring and notice dense patches of green plants crowding out the native wildflowers, a state botanist says the chances are the forest has an infestation of garlic mustard.

 

“Garlic mustard is a major threat to the survival of Wisconsin's woodland plants and the wildlife that depend on them,” says Kelly Kearns, a plant conservationist with the Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Endangered Resources.

 “It quickly dominates the forest floor and can displace most native herbaceous species and tree seedlings within five years.”

 

Even high quality undisturbed forests can become infested through the accidental introduction of a single seed carried in by wildlife, people or streams.

 

Also known by the scientific name of Alliaria petiolata, garlic mustard is a cool-season biennial herb that ranges from 2 to 40" in height as an adult flowering plant. It has scalloped leaves, which emit the distinctive garlic-like odor when crushed, helping to distinguish the plant from all other woodland plants. Second-year plants generally produce one or two flowering stems with numerous white flowers that have four separate petals. In most areas of southern Wisconsin, the flower stalks are just developing and the first flowers are opening in late April/early May of this year.

 

“Garlic mustard can easily be recognized at this time of year because of its lush basal leaves and because it is the only plant of its height in forests that produces white flowers," Kearns says.

 

Hand-pulling is the easiest and most effective way to control new or small populations, and is an integral part to any garlic mustard control effort. If the tops are broken off, the plant will produce several adventitious buds, sending up additional

flower stalks. It is therefore important to pull the entire root up. If the flowers have not yet opened, the uprooted plants can be spread out on the forest floor and allowed to dry out. If any flowers have begun to open, it is necessary to remove the plants from the woods.

 

If they are left there, the uprooted plants can still develop viable seeds. Preliminary research has also shown that the decomposing plants may also alter the soil chemistry in their favor. Pulled plants can be dried and burned or buried. It is not clear that composting kills the seeds, so compost containing garlic mustard should be used carefully.

 

Larger populations can be managed with a combination of handpulling, and herbicide or fire. Prescribed fires in oak forests can kill rosettes and seedlings, but may result in a flush of new seedlings that develop and will need to be controlled. Use of fire with a high BTU propane torch with a long wand applicator is also effective, but should be done only if the chance for the fire spreading can be minimized. This method could also be used after a rain, when the ground and leaves are moist.

 

Herbicides such as glyphosate or 2,4-D are effective in killing basal rosettes if done in early spring, prior to native wildflowers emerging. It can also be done in the fall, after native plants die back but on a warm day when the garlic mustard is still growing. In sites without many native wildflowers, herbicides can be used now, in mid-spring , to kill both rosettes and seedlings. Several weeks after spraying return to the site and pull any flowering plants that escaped the herbicide.

 

Garlic mustard seeds can remain viable in the soil for seven to 10 years, so any control effort must be monitored and repeated for many years. Wooded sites without garlic mustard should be inspected every year.

 


New law increases ATV fees for trails, education and enforcement

Refinement of snowmobile education requirements also becomes law

MADISON – The first increase in all terrain vehicle (ATV) registration fees in 18 years will generate additional dollars for ATV trail projects, ATV rider education and ATV law enforcement. The new two-year registration fee of $30 took effect on April 28.

 

The new law also establishes several other penalty and operating requirements including: an increasing penalty scale based on blood alcohol levels for operating an ATV while intoxicated (OWI); establishes a nonresident trail pass fee of $18; mandates that ATV safety certification is required for all persons 12 years of age or older who were born on or after Jan. 1, 1988; and sets a maximum ATV exhaust noise limit.

 

Nonresident trail passes are separate from ATV registrations and are also used to improve and maintain trails. In general, a nonresident trail pass will be required for any ATV not registered in Wisconsin. Nonresidents from states without ATV registration requirements (e.g. Illinois and Michigan) still must register their machines ($30) in Wisconsin in order to ride on public areas (i.e. trails, frozen waters, etc.).

Nonresidents from states with a displayed out-of-state registration (e.g. Minnesota and Iowa) only need to pay the nonresident trail fee ($18). The nonresident trail pass must be displayed on the forward half the ATV. However, registering an ATV in Wisconsin can be done in lieu of purchasing the nonresident trail pass.

 

ATV registrations have skyrocketed from 25,000 to more than 200,000 since 1986 when registration fees were set at $12 per machine.

 

At $30 dollars for two years, the new fee falls somewhere between those states that do not require any ATV registration and some eastern states where registration fees hit $73 per machine, according to Brooks.

 

The new fees will go back into the sport in a variety of ways. Counties will be eligible to divide up $871,000 in additional county trail aides; $165,000 additional will go to state forests for maintenance; and $70,000 will be available for county law enforcement aid. Counties must submit proposals for trail and ATV projects to the DNR. The Off Road Vehicle Council will help the department review and rank the proposals and the DNR will award grants based on the Council’s recommendations.


Hail kills 106 great blue herons at Chippewa Flowage rookery

HAYWARD, Wis. – A mid-April hail storm in northern Wisconsin resulted in the death of more than 100 great blue herons at a rookery on an island in the Chippewa Flowage in Sawyer County.

 

DNR wildlife staff following up on a citizen report made the gruesome discovery April 30 at a rookery on Little Banana Island. There they found 106 dead herons and another 11 injured but still alive. Approximately another 50 unharmed herons were observed at the site.

The severe storm hit the area on April 18 with hail and high winds damaging homes, cottages, vehicles and stripping needles from pine trees. Two days after the storm, following a search of the island at least 100 heron eggs laid smashed on the ground from the hail. From the number of live herons still present and the total number of nests observed, biologists believe that about two-thirds of the rookery population was killed.

 

Great blue herons are big graceful birds that are a common sight on waters throughout the Midwest. They quietly walk the shorelines feeding on fish and frogs.


Wolf population near 400

NRB approves removing wolves from state endangered-threatened species list

WAUSAU, Wis. – Results of overwinter wolf surveys that estimate the current population of gray wolves in Wisconsin at around 400 animals reinforce a recent decision by the state Natural Resources Board to remove the species from the state endangered and threatened species list, according to state wildlife officials. Wolves will continue to be protected in Wisconsin under state and federal law, but wildlife officials say the change will eventually give them more control over dealing with problem wolves.

 

There now are between 373 and 410 wolves in Wisconsin, according to Adrian Wydeven, mammalian ecologist for the DNR. Biologists and volunteer wolf trackers recently completed an estimation of the 2003-2004 overwinter wolf population. The estimate included 109 packs, or groups of two or more wolves, and at least 13 lone wolves. Twelve wolves were located on Indian Reservations. The total count outside of reservations was 361 to 398 wolves

 

The Natural Resources Board, which sets policy for the DNR, approved removal of the gray wolf from the state list at its March meeting. The action is subject to review by legislative committees; if those committees concur, the wolf will be classified as a Protected Wild Animal. The USFWS continues to list the wolf as a threatened species under federal law.

 

The new estimate is about an 11% increase from the winter 2002-2003 estimate of 335 to 353 wolves. Wydeven says this indicates that population growth has started to decline in the state. The wolf population had grown at an annual rate of 20

percent from 1985 through the early 2000s.

 

The wolf population survey encompasses a combination of tracking radio collared wolves, tracking wolves in the snow on foot or vehicle, and public reports of wolf observations. During the winter period, about radio-collared 45 wolves were followed by DNR pilots once per week to determine the extent of their territories and numbers of members in packs with at least one collared wolf. Wildlife biologists and technicians also drove, skied, and walked thousands of miles of snow-covered roads and trails searching for wolves in packs that were not radio collared, according to Wydeven.

 

The USFWS upgraded the status of wolves in Wisconsin from endangered to threatened on April 1, 2003. This allowed staff from DNR and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services to trap and euthanize problem wolves. In 2003, 17 wolves were trapped and euthanized from five farms in northern Wisconsin. Wolf depredation on livestock and poultry was verified on 13 farms in Wisconsin in 2003.

 

The USFWS may start the process to remove wolves from the federal threatened species list later this year, and could complete the process in 2005. This action would return all wolf management to state officials. Wisconsin began the process of removing wolves from the state list in the fall of 2003, and the Wisconsin Natural Resource Board voted on March 24 2004, to remove wolves from the state threatened list and designate as Protected Wild Animal. Once both federal and state delisting are completed, the DNR will be better able to target management efforts on wolves that are causing problems.


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