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Invasive Species Awareness Week – April 22-28

Posted on: April 23, 2019  |  

The Manitoba government has proclaimed April 22 to 28 Invasive Species Awareness Week, and is continuing efforts to make the public aware of the negative effects invasive species can have on our environment, Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires announced today.

“We all have a role to play in protecting this beautiful province and we have a responsibility to take action now to protect our waterways, forests and landscapes,” Squires said.  “This week is a step toward making sure all Manitobans are aware of how invasive species affect our environment and what we can do to make sure our environment is healthy for generations to come.”

Manitoba has been working to raise public awareness of invasive species for decades and remind Manitobans of the constant threat they pose.  From the emerald ash borer (EAB) to the cottony ash psyllid, forest invasive species (FIS) threaten trees while aquatic invasive species (AIS) such as zebra mussels, spiny waterflea and rusty crayfish, threaten aquatic ecosystems.  The annual cost of controlling invasive species in Canada runs in the billions of dollars, so the importance of prevention cannot be underestimated, the minister added.

The emerald ash borer has been found in Winnipeg and the city has been designated as a regulated area by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).  Firewood of any species, ash nursery stock or any kind of ash wood cannot be moved in or out of Winnipeg without permission from CFIA.  While Dutch elm disease (DED), an invasive fungal disease, has been successfully managed in many areas in the province, EAB is proving to be much more difficult to control.  The key to defending Manitoba’s trees from this invader is prevention and early detection.  In conjunction with Invasive Species Awareness Week, ash trees at the Legislative Building grounds will be banded highlighting the trees that are at risk now that emerald ash borer is in Winnipeg.

Zebra mussels, one of Manitoba’s most concerning aquatic invasive species, have been confirmed in a few Manitoba waterways.  They were first reported in Lake Winnipeg in 2013.  The small, clam-like animals have cost the North American economy billions of dollars to control, Squires noted.  Adult mussels can attached firmly to surfaces such as watercraft, trailers and water-related equipment like anchors, and larvae (veligers) which are too small to see without a microscope, can survive in small amounts of water and may be transported by un-drained watercraft and equipment like bait buckets.  The annual watercraft inspection program will soon be up and running, and provincial staff will be answering questions and handing out information about AIS on Sunday, April 28 at Fort Whyte Alive.

Water-users such as boaters and fishers are reminded to do their part in preventing the spread of zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species.  Before leaving any body of water, take the proper steps to remove aquatic plants and invasive species; drain all water and remove drain plugs before transporting watercraft over land; dry all equipment and surfaces before placing in another water body; and dispose of all bait used in a control zone water body in the trash prior to leaving the shore.

Failure to comply with the Aquatic Invasive Species Regulation can result in a pre-determined or set fine.  Fines are in effect in Manitoba year-round and carry a range of penalties, depending on the offence.  Fines range from $174 to $2,542.  For example, the set fine for an individual failing to remove drain plugs while transporting watercraft over land is $237.

For more information on invasive species, visit www.gov.mb.ca/stopthespread.

 

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