MADISON — Wisconsin hunters will be able to hit the waters soon for the 2019 waterfowl hunting season. Opening weekend for wild ducks, Sept. 28-29, also begins the fourth year of aquatic invasive species outreach to waterfowl hunters.

That weekend, teams made up of staff from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, statewide partners and volunteers will meet hunters at access points in the Mead Wildlife Area, Big Muskego, Horicon Marsh, in multiple counties, and along the Mississippi River to talk about the impact of aquatic invasive species and what they can do to help stop the spread.

Modeled after the successful “Clean Boats, Clean Waters” (CBCW) program that reaches boaters throughout summer, boat inspectors/educators conduct a hunting version of the CBCW survey and talk with them about specific aspects of duck hunting that risk moving aquatic invasives. Mud, for example, can hide seeds, the bulbils of starry stonewort, and the eggs or larvae of tiny invaders, such as spiny water fleas.

Of particular concern to hunters is the Faucet snail. These snails carry intestinal flukes that can kill ducks if they eat them.

DNR staff and coordinators for the AIS Partnership are often available to provide presentations and other outreach at hunt club meetings and events. People can find a regional coordinator by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for “Aquatic Invasive Species Contacts.”

Just a few minutes of preventative action can protect hunting tradition for generations to come. Before launching into and leaving a water body, hunters should:

• Inspect waders, boats, trailers, motors and hunting equipment, including boots, blinds, and dogs

• Remove all plants, animals, and mud

• Drain all water from decoys, boats, motors, live wells and other hunting equipment

• Never move plants or live fish away from a water body

• A special consideration for waterfowl hunters is to remove all seed heads and roots when using vegetation for duck blinds. It is important to note that it is illegal to use phragmites in counties where the plant is listed as prohibited by NR40. In general, these counties include the western half of Wisconsin.

For more information about aquatic invasive species, including where they are prohibited and restricted in Wisconsin, search dnr.wi.gov for keyword “invasives.”