With duck hunting season getting underway in most of the state in early November, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is reminding waterfowl hunters to clean, drain and dry boats and equipment before traveling from lake to lake to help avoid spreading invasive species like giant salvinia.
“Giant salvinia is often thought of as a plant that blocks recreational access for anglers and boaters, but it can cause serious problems for waterfowl hunters too,” said John Findeisen, Brookeland Aquatic Habitat Enhancement Team Lead. “Not only does it 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.”
In addition to cleaning their boats and trailers, hunters should also make sure they aren’t inadvertently carrying the invasive species on other equipment like waders, decoys and marsh sleds. A video to help hunters properly clean, drain and dry can be found at bit.ly/HunterCleanDrainDry.
Giant salvinia is currently present on 16 East Texas lakes, including Caddo Lake, Lake Conroe, B.A. Steinhagen Reservoir, Lake Livingston, Lake Murvaul, Lake Nacogdoches, Lake Naconiche, Lake O’ the Pines, Lake Palestine, Lake Raven, Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Sheldon Reservoir, Lake Striker, Lake Texana, Lake Timpson, Hemphill City Lake, and Toledo Bend Reservoir. Additionally, giant salvinia can also be found in most, if not all, of the rivers, creeks, and marshes between Houston and Beaumont.
Findeisen noted that giant salvinia can hide 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.
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 409-698- 9121 or via the online report form. Text TPWD GS to 468-311 for updates on giant salvinia (GS).