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SUPERIOR - The recent discovery of emerald ash borer is a not so friendly reminder that the Northland is vulnerable to invasive species on land and water.
"Once aquatic invasive species are into a system rarely is there an opportunity to eradicate it," UMD Aquatic Invasive Species Program Coordinator Douglas Jensen said.
Experts at the Lake Superior Binational Forum are fighting the spread of these threating critters.
They were introduced into the Great Lakes by ballast water and transported by boaters and anglers.
"There have been about nine different pathways that have been documented for introduction of invasive species," said Jensen.
Once these hitchhikers get into lakes, rivers and forests they generally grow fast, reproduce and spread quickly.
"So, they can outcompete our native fish for habitat and also for food," said Jensen.
"It could make it not as good habitat for wildlife like water fowl or deer," Superior National Forest Plant Ecologist Jack Greenlee said.
This could not only disrupt the ecosystem, but also affect fisheries, recreation and tourism.
"If people stop coming in Minnesota, as well as Wisconsin, it's gonna hurt our economy," said Jensen.
Experts at the forum are on a mission to spread the word about prevention.
They advise boaters and anglers to remove plants and mud from their boats, drain water away from landings and allow their boats to dry.
"Cleaning is the bottom line,” said Greenlee. “Come clean and leave clean."
Experts also say if you think you've found a new invasive species do not release it back into the water.
Store and refrigerate it and then deliver the creature to your local DNR office as soon as possible.