Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) are non-indigenous invasive organisms. Once introduced in to water bodies outside of their natural geographic zone, they are capable of causing significant ecological, commercial and recreational impacts. Their exponential growth fostered by the absence of natural controls such as pathogens, parasites and predators, is the main problem. They drastically alter the ecosystem structure by outcompeting native species and interfering in the food chain. They are also known to interfere with water utilization, recreation and transportation. In addition these ANS are capable of being transported in ballasts and other wet areas in boats. As a result they have been successful in spreading from water body to water body.
Zebra and Quagga mussels, New Zealand mud snail and Eurasian water milfoil exist in Colorado. Zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) was spotted for the first time in the US in spring of 1988 at Lake St. Clair, MI. Native to Caspian and Black sea, zebra mussels are believed to have been transported in ballast water of a transatlantic freighter that may have previously navigated to a port in Eastern Europe where this mussel is native. They are now widely spread in the great lakes, and inland waters such as the Mississippi, Tennessee, Hudson, and Ohio river basins. Recently they appear to be moving west of the 100th meridian. Some water bodies are already infected with zebra mussels. Anything that comes in contact with the water, such as boats, personal watercrafts, water-skiing gear, fishing equipment, etc. are a potential vector to transporting ANS onto next water body.
Even undesirable aquarium plants and fish dumped into natural water is one way ANS has been spreading without people understanding the far reaching consequences of invasive species. Please dispose of unwanted aquarium and water garden plants or animals properly.
Protect the places where you love to play! Please help by cleaning gear and vehicles before entry and after exiting any body of water.