Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) are organisms that have been introduced into new areas that harm aquatic natural resources and that interfere with human uses of these resources. Aquatic Nuisance Species can be plants, animals, and even microbes.

The spread of these exotic organisms, sometimes also called Aquatic Invasive Species, is causing ecological and economic harm throughout the world. They can threaten the survival of native species through predation or competition, and municipal water uses can be disrupted among other impacts.

Some of the most well known Aquatic Nuisance Species include zebra mussels, New Zealand mudsnails, and the rusty crayfish. Invasive plants that threaten aquatic resources include purple loosestrife and Eurasian milfoil. The whirling disease parasite is one of the tiniest animals considered an Aquatic Nuisance Species. This microbe was introduced from Europe to the United States where it has caused whirling disease among wild trout and hatchery trout, harming fish populations and the aquaculture industry.

Luckily, there are simple actions people can take to prevent the spread of Aquatic Nuisance Species, and there is a lot of information available for concerned scientists and citizens.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, simply type "aquatic nuisance species" into any Internet search engine. There are a wealth of Web sites full of excellent information.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Clean and dry everything that came into contact with water. Before leaving a site, remove all signs of mud, plants, or critters from your boots, boats, float tubes, and trailers. Use a scrub brush to remove all mud from your felt soled boots.

Do not transfer live fish, insects, live bait or plants from one water body to another. This practice can spread disease and exotic species. Do not release aquarium fish or pets into the wild.

Obtain certified disease-free fish for any private fish stocking projects. Private fish producers should be able to provide documentation from the state that will confirm their fish are free of diseases. In many states, a permit is also required before transferring live fish. Check with your state agency to avoid trouble and fines.

Contact your local fish and wildlife agency if you observe signs of whirling disease, illegal fish stocking, or if you suspect you've found an Aquatic Nuisance Species.

Do not dispose of fish heads, skeletons or entrails in any body of water. Fish parts should be disposed of in the garbage, by deep burying or by total burning. The whirling disease parasite can be transported in fish skeletons and potentially infect new areas.

Learn more and share the information with your community.