Fall heralds the season waterfowl hunters look forward to all year. But before hunters begin building waterfowl blinds, the Vt. Fish & Wildlife Department reminds them to pay attention to the materials used and to avoid spreading invasive plants. The transport of invasive plant species is illegal in Vermont.
“Most knowledgeable waterfowl hunters avoid using invasive plants,” says David Sausville, Vermont’s waterfowl biologist, “but sometimes people mistakenly add Phragmites, Japanese knotweed, and purple loosestrife as blind building materials. These plants can easily establish in new wetlands and devastate habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife. Sometimes just a single stem is enough to allow a new species to take over, pushing out the native plants that ducks and geese use for food and cover.”
Sausville recommends that hunters instead use cedar bows, corn stalks, or cattails for waterfowl blinds. Cattails should be cut above the waterline to avoid transporting invasive snails or other plants which may be attached to them.
Additionally, hunters should practice “Clean, Drain, and Dry” techniques on all boats, trailers, and equipment to ensure they are free of aquatic hitchhikers.
CLEAN off any mud, plants, and animals from boat, trailer, motor and other equipment. Discard removed material in a trash receptacle or on high, dry ground where there is no danger of them washing into any water body.
DRAIN all water from boat, boat engine, and other equipment away from the water.
DRY anything that comes into contact with the water. Drying boat, trailer, and equipment in the sun for at least five days is recommended. If this is not possible, then rinse your boat, trailer parts, and other equipment with hot, high-pressure water.
“Remove all plants and mud from your boots and hunting gear, and don’t forget to clean the mud and plants off your hunting dog’s vest too,” said Sausville. “By exercising a few simple precautions, we can ensure that Vermont’s waterfowl habitat remains healthy.”