Monday, November 25, 2013

Help Prevent the Spread of Invasive New Zealand Mud Snails

Recent find in Wisconsin prompts alert to Illinois residents and visitors
New Zealand Mud Snails
(Photo courtesy

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is asking for anglers, hunters, trappers and boaters to “Be A Hero, Transport Zero” and be on the lookout for a new aquatic invasive species now found in small streams of the Midwest. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) reports the New Zealand mud snail has been found in Black Earth Creek, Dane County, Wisconsin.

“This is a significant and disappointing find in Wisconsin,” said Bob Wakeman, who coordinates the WDNR aquatic invasive species efforts. “The New Zealand mud snail can be extremely prolific, has altered the food chain, and may be having an impact on fish populations in Western streams. We don’t know what the impact will be in Wisconsin, but we do know that there is no good way to eradicate the snails so we are focusing on containing them as quickly as we can and ask for citizens’ help in doing that as well.”

Kevin Irons, Aquatic Nuisance Species Program manager for IDNR fisheries said the New Zealand mud snail has, to date, only been found in the Illinois waters of Lake Michigan, and the spread is facilitated by water users.

“Where found in creeks, anglers, hunters, and trappers can transport snails, most commonly on boots, waders, and equipment such as duck decoy anchors,” Irons said. “We want water users to remember our motto when leaving a body of water to ‘Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!’ – and to ‘Be a Hero – Transport Zero.’”

The ‘Be a Hero – Transport Zero’ campaign recommends three simple steps: 1) Remove plants animals and mud equipment; 2) Drain all water from your boat and gear; and 3) Dry everything thoroughly with a towel.

More information about cleaning your equipment can be found at

Dane County, Wisconsin is approximately 25 miles from the Illinois state line, meaning New Zealand mud snails are only about 45 miles from Illinois streams.

These snails can be transported by mud on waders, decoy weights, boats and trailers, or other clothing and equipment that they may come in contact with.

“There is little that we can do to target and detect these types of species without the help of sportsmen and women. We depend on best practices and cleaning equipment that will reduce the spread of these and other nuisance species into and across Illinois,” Irons added.

To find out more about the New Zealand mud snail, check the USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species website at

More resources:

The Wisconsin DNR press release on most recent finding in the Midwest can be viewed at

Be A Hero – Transport Zero campaign video can be found at

To report New Zealand mud snail locations or other Aquatic Nuisance Species, please call the Illinois ANS Program office at 217-785-8772.

For a photo image of the mud snail, check the website at this link:

Thursday, November 21, 2013

3rd Annual Bush Honeysuckle Survey Event at Trail of Tears State Forest

Monday, December 9th, 2013
9:00 am to 2:00 pm
Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) is spreading rapidly throughout Southern Illinois, and has the potential to cause significant ecological and economic damage to forests.  Volunteers are needed to help collect information on the location of plants throughout the Trail of Tears State Forest, so that we may inform Invasive Species Strike Team control efforts in 2014.  The State Forest and surrounding area is designated as a Conservation Opportunity Area (COA) by the Illinois Wildlife Action Plan.  Located in the Illinois Ozarks Natural Division, this site contains diverse wildlife habitat, as well as high species biodiversity.  Please help conserve our forest resources by targeting this invasive plant.  
We will meet at the Trail of Tears State Forest – Historic White Barn (3240 State Forest Road, Jonesboro, IL 62952).  You will find directions to the site at this link:  (Latitude 37.485169; Longitude -89.358735).  Also here is a map of the site: 
Volunteers will be briefed on survey protocol and Amur honeysuckle identification.  Maps of the site will be provided.  Volunteers will walk the fire trails along the ridges in the southern area of the forest, identifying plants and recording the locations of infestations.  Volunteers should dress for the weather and be prepared to walk some distance, occasionally traversing steep terrain.  Lunch will be provided (chili with meat), but participants should bring something to drink.  Volunteers are also encouraged to bring a clipboard and/or GPS unit to collect latitude and longitude of plants to record on data sheets (if you have them).
Please contact River to River CWMA Coordinator, Karla Gage, if you would like to RSVP or if you need more information:  rtrcwma@gmail.comor 618-303-6603 (call or text).
This event is organized by the River to River Cooperative Weed Management Area and the Illinois Wildlife Action Plan – Invasive Species Campaign.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Ben Haberthur and Cathy McGlynn Receive Audubon Toyota TogetherGreen Awards

Cathy McGlynn and Ben Haberthur, TogetherGreen Award Recipients
Prestigious National Awards and Grants Further Efforts of Local Environmental Leaders

Chicago Region, IL (November 7, 2013) – Toyota and the National Audubon Society today announced that a Toyota TogetherGreen Fellowship will be awarded to a Glencoe-based Coordinator of the Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership and a Toyota TogetherGreen Innovation Grant will be awarded to a Geneva-based Restoration Ecologist of the Forest Preserve District of Kane County. After a competitive nationwide selection process, Catherine McGlynn was selected for the year-long fellowship program and a $10,000 grant and Ben Haberthur was selected for the year-long grantee program and a $55,928 grant.

Haberthur will expand on the project for which he received a fellowship in 2012. Veteran volunteers will continue to restore Dick Young Forest Preserve during veteran volunteer work days. In addition, restoration training will be provided to four veterans who will be hired for the Veterans Conservation Corps. The job ad is available here (

McGlynn will launch a project to raise awareness about invasive garden plants in the Hispanic community in Waukegan, IL.  Bilingual workshops, Midwest Invasive Plant Network Landscape Alternatives brochures, and some homeowner facts sheets will be offered early next spring throughout the city. Three native Spanish speakers associated with NIIPP have agreed to help with this project- Windsor Aguirre (DePaul University), and Mart├Źn and Georgina Valenzuela (Fermilab Natural Areas).

“Toyota TogetherGreen Fellows and Grantees help people engage with nature. They look like America: diverse, passionate, and patriotic,” said Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold (@david_yarnold). “They are environmental heroes and we’re excited to give them a chance to invent the future.”

The Toyota TogetherGreen Fellowship and Grants Program invests in conservation leaders of all backgrounds, providing them with resources, visibility and a growing peer network to help them lead communities nationwide to a healthier environmental future. Since 2008, more than 240 conservation leaders from across the country have been awarded Toyota TogetherGreen Fellowships and Grants. They have engaged nearly 150,000 people in a wide variety of conservation efforts nationwide.

A complete list of 2013 Toyota TogetherGreen Fellows and details about their conservation projects can be found at The complete list of 2013 Toyota TogetherGreen Grantees and details about their conservation projects can be found at

About Toyota TogetherGreen

Toyota and the National Audubon Society launched the Toyota TogetherGreen initiative in 2008 to foster diverse environmental leadership and invest in innovative conservation ideas. Toyota TogetherGreen funding recipients have improved more than 30,000 acres of habitat, mobilized 420,000 individuals, conserved 15 million gallons of water and leveraged $10.5 million in volunteer hours. For more information, visit

Monday, November 4, 2013

New Zealand mud snails discovered in Black Earth Creek, WI - First occurence in inland Midwest

photo from
MADISON – The invasive New Zealand mud snail that has been a problem in western U.S. streams has been detected in Black Earth Creek, a renowned trout stream in Dane County, Wisconsin.

The discovery, the first in an inland Midwestern stream, is spurring the state to begin rapid response procedures to try to contain the snail, and to call on waterfowl hunters, trappers anglers and hikers to take precautions to avoid accidentally spreading the species.

“This is a significant and disappointing find in Wisconsin,” says Bob Wakeman, who coordinates the Department of Natural Resources aquatic invasive species efforts. “The New Zealand mud snail can be extremely prolific, has altered the food chain and may be having an impact on fish populations in Western streams.”

“We don’t know what the impact will be in Wisconsin, but we do know that there is no good way to eradicate the snails so we are focusing on containing them as quickly as we can and ask for citizens’ help in doing that as well.”

Wakeman says DNR has notified partners of the discovery, and will work with citizens, the River Alliance of Wisconsin, Trout Unlimited, University of Wisconsin-Extension, Wisconsin Sea Grant and Dane County to contain the species through increasing awareness of prevention steps among those who might inadvertently help spread the snail: hunters, anglers, trappers and hikers.

Signage, and wash stations along the area where the invasive species has been detected are among the educational efforts likely to be used, Wakeman says.

The department’s discovery of the snail during routine monitoring for aquatic invasive species was confirmed earlier this month by Dr. Kathryn Perez from University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, who identified all individuals in the samples as belonging to the “Clone 1” population, previously found only in the western states as far east as Colorado. A “Clone 2” population also exist in the Great Lakes, which arrived by ballast water.

The New Zealand mud snail, the size of a grain of sand, has a black and brown shell and is capable of reaching high densities – up to 500,000 per square meter. The snails outcompete native insects that are food for fish and other aquatic life but are not good food sources themselves.

The snails are listed as a prohibited species in Wisconsin, meaning it’s illegal to buy, sell, possess or transfer them without a permit.

Although trout season on the creek has closed for winter, hunters, hikers and trappers visiting the Driftless area should take care to review gear disinfection protocols – particularly for waders, where the tiny snails can cling to rubber or mud.

“This is why it’s so important to clean your equipment before leaving a lake or stream -- and ask your friends and guests to do the same,” Wakeman says. “We need everyone’s vigilance to help contain this invasive species.”

Take these prevention steps after leaving the water to keep Wisconsin streams healthy:

• Inspect and remove all mud and debris that might harbor snails from your boots, waders, boats and other gear with a stiff brush. If possible, rinse with tap water before leaving the river. If you are going home, let your gear freeze for 6-8 hours or dry it in a warm place (85 degree Fahrenheit) for 24 hours to kill mud snails.

• Drain water from boat, motor, bilge, decoys and other water containing devices before leaving water access (before launching, after loading and before transporting on a public highway).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bob Wakeman, 262-719-0740; David Rowe 608-275-3282

More information about New Zealand mud snail

Fungus that's killing millions of bats 'isn't going away'

Article from Los Anglese Times
by By Louis Sahagun

November 1, 2013, 1:27 p.m.
See original article HERE

A bat infected with white-nose syndrome. (Steven J. Taylor / University of Illinois)
University of Illinois researchers say that an infectious and lethal cold-loving fungus that has killed an estimated 6 million bats in North America can persist indefinitely in caves whether there are bats in them or not.

The fungus responsible for white-nose syndrome, which scientists know as Geomyces destructans, thrives on all the carbon and nitrogen sources found in caves – twigs, dead spiders and fish, guano, other fungi – making it a permanent menace, according to a study by mycologist Andrew Miller and graduate student Daniel Raudabaugh published this month in the online journal PLOS ONE.

“A hibernating bat is a sort of prime rib for this fungi – but the rest of the cave is its salad bar,” Miller said in an interview. “The only hope is that bats will develop some sort of immunity because the fungus isn’t going away.”

Since it was discovered in New York in 2007, the fungus has swept across 22 states as far west as Oklahoma and five Canadian provinces. A majority of the dead were little brown bats, which have lost an estimated 20% of their population in the Northeastern United States over the last six years.

The fungus seems to prefer the 25 species of hibernating bats, but each of the 45 species of bats in the United States and Canada may be susceptible to white-nose syndrome.

White-nose syndrome gets its name from the powdery, white substance that appears around muzzles, ears and wings of affected bats.

Bats with white-nose syndrome exhibit unusual behavior during cold winter months, including flying outside during the day and clustering near the entrances of caves and mines where they hibernate. Bats have been found sick and dying in unprecedented numbers near these sites during a time of year when there are no insects to eat.

Hibernating bats are vulnerable to the fungus because their internal temperature is reduced to slightly above the ambient temperature and the bat immune system is suppressed, the researchers said. The fungus degrades keratin, a key protein in skin, and causes severe skin lesions.

Mollie Matteson, a spokeswoman for the Center for Biological Diversity, described the University of Illinois study as “very troubling because it suggests that this is a very tough organism and it’s not going away any time soon, even if bats are wiped out by it.”