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Michigan DNR: Early detection key to controlling aquatic invasive species

Yellow floating heart, on Michigan's Watch List, was detected and removed from a man-made pond in Dearborn in 2015 and another such pond in Sterling Heights in 2016.
Yellow floating heart, on Michigan's Watch List, was detected and removed from a man-made pond in Dearborn in 2015 and another such pond in Sterling Heights in 2016.

Michigan residents are urged to become familiar with species on the invasive species watch list, as well as other invasive plants, insects and animals, to help with early detection.

“Early detection and response is truly a statewide effort,” said Sarah LeSage, aquatic invasive species coordinator for the Department of Environmental Quality. “It relies on detection and reporting from citizens across Michigan, as well as monitoring and management support from the local management areas, landowners, local governments and the private sector.”

Read more: St. Joseph, Kalamazoo rivers test clean for Asian carp

Currently, 28 high-threat invasive species are on Michigan’s watch list. The list includes:

  • 10 aquatic plants
  • Six terrestrial plants
  • Five fish
  • Three insects
  • One tree disease
  • Red swamp crayfish
  • Nutria (a mammal)
  • New Zealand mudsnail

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, six of the plants on the list have been detected in limited areas. Yellow floating heart, water lettuce, European frogbit and parrot feather have been found by staffers during monitoring activities, as well as the public, Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area staffers and lake management companies.

When a species on the list is reported, early detection begins with an investigation. Photos are examined by experts, and if identification is positive, a site visit is conducted to determine the extent of the invasion.

“The team conducts investigations and responds to positively identified detection by assessing the risk posed by the invading plant, reviewing response options and, if feasible, planning and implementing a response,” LeSage said.

According to the DNR, responses are tailored to the situation. Some larger infestations may require multiple partners, while a smaller infestation may be able to be eradicated with chemical application.

Descriptions of watch list species can be found at michigan.gov/invasivespecies, and short identification tutorials for many invasive species are available at misin.msu.edu.

To report aquatic invasive plants, contact DEQ Aquatic Nuisance Control at 517-284-5593or DEQ-WRD-ANC@michigan.gov. Online reports can be made at misin.msu.edu or through the MISIN smartphone app.

Watch a video on how to identify yellow floating heart below.

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