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Bret Shaw: Heading off aquatic invasive species

[audio:http://news.cals.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/bret_shaw_invasive_species.mp3|titles=Bret Shaw: Heading off aquatic invasive species]

Transcript:

Sevie Kenyon

Wisconsin Voters take a role in preventing the spread of invasive species. We’re visiting today with Bret Shaw, Department of Life Science Communication, University of Wisconsin Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison Wisconsin, and I am Sevie Kenyon. Bret, can you tell us what is at stake with the spread of these invasive species?

Bret Shaw

So there is a whole variety of reasons, from biodiversity to tourism to economics that strongly suggest that we want to stop the spread of these aquatic invasive species. If we don’t stop them, once they are infested in the lakes, they are very hard to get rid of.

Sevie Kenyon

Can you tell us a little about the invasive species we are talking about?

Bret Shaw

Well there are a few that a lot of people think about. On the plant side, it’s eurasian water milfoil and curly leaf pond weed. Some of the main ones people think about too are zebra mussels and the asian carp. There are a lot of different kinds of aquatic invasive species.

Sevie Kenyon

Bret can you give us an idea of what has been in place to try and prevent this spread?

Bret Shaw

One is at the University of Wisconin-Stevens Point. They have worked to create a lot of volunteers that will actually go down to the boat landings when the folks are coming out of the lake and talk to people, saying “Hey, I’m not sure if you noticed, but you didn’t empty your live well,” or “You have extra plants hanging off of your boat.” There was a big investment last year on improving both the messaging and the size of landing signs, and what we found in our research is that people really noticed once the state invested more money in the signs. Right now, by the boat landing, people’s behaviors really did appear to improve.

Sevie Kenyon

Bret, you have done some surveys of how boaters are responding to this challenge. Can you outline that for us?

Bret Shaw

So what we are finding across the board is that people are improving. In the case of some behaviors, there is compliance up to the low to mid 90’s, which is fantastic! In other areas, we are also seeing improvements going from 45% to 55%, which is obviously great from the standpoint of watching people’s behaviors improve, but clearly there is still a lot more improvement to go.

Sevie Kenyon

What needs to be done in the future?

Bret Shaw

We are working with different types of businesses that regularly interact with boaters and anglers moving between bodies of water. We are cooperating with bait businesses, fishing clubs, marina owners and fishing guides. The idea there is that those people have a very invested interest in assuring that Wisconsin’s fisheries stay healthy. What we are trying to do is to work with them and provide the kind of tools that they need in order to communicate with their customers. We all share the same basic goal, which is to protect Wisconsin’s lakes and fisheries, and there are a lot of people’s livelihoods that depend on the fishery industry. We want to understand that there is an economic element to this as well.

Sevie Kenyon

We have been visiting today with Bret Shaw, Department of Life Science Communication, University of Wisconsin Extension and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison Wisconsin, and I am Sevie Kenyon.