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Tips provided to avoid the spread of invasive species during the winter season

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Cheyenne – Awareness about invasive species is at its height during the warm summer months when people are hiking, biking, boating and otherwise enjoying the great outdoors. However, invasive plants, animals and microorganisms can still wreak havoc on ecosystems during the cold winter months. 

“Invasive species never take a day off,” said Larry Smith, president of the Wyoming Weed and Pest Council (WWPC). “We have to remain diligent during the winter season to slow the spread of invasive species which threaten our ecosystem.”

When headed outdoors for winter fun, the WWPC encourages everyone to follow the tips they provide to avoid the spread of invasive species.  

Hiking and winter boots may spread invasive species. Be sure to stay on marked trails and remove mud, leaves and other debris using a boot brush.

If ice fishing this winter, anglers are recommended to check and clean anything that may come into contact with lake or river water, including bait, hooks, lines and augers. Purchase native bait at a local shop – don’t bring it from home. Be sure to properly discard any aquatic invasive species caught, rather than putting them back in the water. Keep in mind certain invasive species like zebra mussels can survive under water during the winter.

When cross-country skiing, WWPC recommends skiers stay on groomed trails and away from mud, plants, leaves and other debris. Recreationists should thoroughly clean equipment when done.

Consider where trailers and snowmobiles have been parked over the summer before heading up the mountain. If there were invasive plants in the storage location, they could be hitching a ride on a snowmobile. Be sure to check equipment to make sure there are no plant parts or seeds.

Through rain and snow, outdoor gear may become host to invasive species. Carefully clean and wipe down any gear or equipment that is wet. Wait a minimum of five days to ensure everything is dry and free of invasive microorganisms. 

WWPC also recommends sourcing certified hay and firewood. Utilize certified, weed-free hay for livestock. Don’t move firewood long distances. Instead, buy firewood where you plan to burn it and purchase certified heat-treated firewood.

Even during the dormant winter months, invasive plant species can damage forests and grasslands. The winter season is a good time to take control of invasive plants because they are easier to spot when leaves are down. Use an app, such as Picture This, to identify invasive species or contact a local weed and pest district to develop a plan. 

It’s easy for invasive plants and seeds to get stuck on furry friends. Be sure to check dogs thoroughly after a hike, hunting trip or other outdoor excursion.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remain vigilant when it comes to fighting invasive species – even during the winter. Despite the cold weather and the fact plants are not growing doesn’t diminish the spread of viable seed throughout the state. 

This article is courtesy of the Wyoming Weed and Pest Council. The WWPC is comprised of 23 Weed and Pest Districts in the state of Wyoming. The council works closely with the Wyoming Department of Agriculture and the University of Wyoming to keep current with the latest technology and research available in the ongoing management of noxious weeds and pests. The overall mission is to provide unified support and leadership for integrated management of noxious weeds and pests to protect economic and ecological resources in the state. 

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