More than 20 lakes in East Texas are currently infested with giant salvinia, including Caddo Lake, which is considered a wetland of international importance for waterfowl habitat. With waterfowl seasons opening soon across the state, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is urging hunters to be aware of invasive giant salvinia and to help prevent its spread by cleaning, draining and drying all equipment before leaving any water body.
“The expansion of giant salvinia at Caddo Lake and others is a big concern –this year we added six new lakes to the infested list and treated over 12,000 acres of it throughout East Texas,” said John Findeisen, TPWD aquatic invasive species team lead. “Not only does this invasive plant form thick mats that block access for hunters to prime waterfowl hunting areas, it can also outgrow and replace the native plants that waterfowl rely on for food and habitat.”
Findeisen said hunters can prevent spreading giant salvinia by cleaning and removing all visible plant material from equipment before leaving any body of water, draining water from all equipment before transporting it anywhere, and drying anything that came in contact with water before entering another water body.
“We are currently treating giant salvinia infestations with herbicides and biocontrol measures like giant salvinia weevils, but prevention is the most effective and cheapest management tool we have. We need hunters to do their part and take these steps to keep it from spreading further and getting introduced into new lakes,” Findeisen said. “Giant salvinia could be hiding undetected in any body of water, so proper cleaning, draining and drying procedures should be done before leaving any lake – even those that aren’t known to be infested.”
Hunters should be mindful that boats and trailers aren’t the only ways giant salvinia can spread – it can also be harbored in waders, decoys and marsh sleds. A video to help hunters properly clean, drain and dry boats and equipment can be found at bit.ly/HunterCleanDrainDry.
In addition to harming the recreational experience at lakes and damaging aquatic ecosystems, the transport of aquatic invasive species can result in legal trouble. In Texas, transporting prohibited invasive species is punishable by a fine of up to $500 per violation. Boaters are also required to drain all water from their boat and onboard receptacles before leaving or approaching a body of fresh water in order to prevent the transfer of aquatic invasive species.
Because early detection is an important part of reducing or eliminating the presence of giant salvinia, TPWD encourages hunters to report new sightings to (409) 384- 9965 or via the online report form.
Text TPWD GS or TPWD ZM to 468-311 for updates on giant salvinia (GS) or zebra mussels (ZM).