The Great Lakes Fishery Commission today reported that populations of the invasive, parasitic sea lamprey remain at near-historic lows, below targets, in Lakes Michigan and Ontario, and above target, but holding steady, in Lakes Huron, Superior and Erie. Sea lamprey populations in Lake Huron are close to target levels and have been holding steady for the past five years. Abundances in Lakes Superior and Erie remain above target but have also decreased significantly since the near-record highs observed in 2017. Sea lampreys are the worst of the alien species to invade the Great Lakes. Before control, sea lampreys destroyed many times the human fish catch. Today, sea lamprey control is the foundation of the $7 billion Great Lakes fishery. The Commission and its partners are encouraged by the overall decrease in abundance of sea lampreys throughout the Great Lakes basin during 2019, but caution that environmental conditions, such as a prolonged spring and high precipitation events, contributed to the decrease.
The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) has confirmed the presence of a new, invasive insect, the Spotted Lanternfly (Lycormia delicatula), in West Virginia. A small population of Spotted Lanternfly was detected in the Bunker Hill area of Berkeley County on October 30. The United States Department of Agriculture – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service confirmed the findings. "We have been surveying for this invasive pest for the past two years. We knew it was only a matter of time until the Spotted Lanternfly made it to our state," said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt. "The next step is to ask for formal assistance from our federal and state partners to put together an action plan to combat this pest." For more information or to report potential Spotted Lanternfly sightings, contact email@example.com or 304-788-1066.
In 2019, the Alaska Office of the State Veterinarian, in collaboration with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the University of Alaska, began the Alaska Submit-A-Tick Program. Through this program, individuals who find ticks on themselves, their family members, pets, or wildlife (e.g. hunted or trapped animals) can submit ticks for species identification and pathogen testing. Researchers are asking Alaskans to submit ticks to help determine which tick species are currently in the state. Tick submissions will also help us learn more about how ticks are being imported into Alaska so that we can create effective strategies to limit their introduction. Ticks can transmit bacteria, parasites, and viruses that can cause diseases in humans and wildlife. Pathogen testing allows us to assess tickborne disease risk in the state.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is announcing a $100,000 challenge to combat white-nose syndrome (WNS), a lethal fungus that has killed millions of bats in North America and pushed some native bat species to the brink of extinction. Funding will be awarded to individuals who identify innovative ways to permanently eradicate, weaken or disarm the disease.
There is no known cure for white-nose syndrome, but scientists worldwide are working together to study the disease and how it can be controlled. Much of this work has been conducted under the umbrella of the U.S. National Response to White-nose Syndrome, a broad, multi-agency effort led by the Service.
The Service will host a White-Nose Syndrome Challenge webinar Nov. 20, 2019, from 2 to 3 p.m. ET for the public to learn more about the challenge guidelines, judging criteria, timeline and more. The deadline for individuals or teams to enter the challenge is Dec.31, 2019, by 11:59 p.m. ET. Winning ideas will be the focus of future collaborations with scientists, designers and engineers to bring solutions to life. Additional information regarding rules and eligibility is available at White-nose Syndrome Challenge.
Spotted lanternfly is a threat to Maryland and the U.S. The Maryland Department of Agriculture issued a quarantine October 28, 2019 in an effort to contain the invasive species in Cecil and Harford counties after the spotted lanternfly was spotted in Cecil’s northeastern corner and along Harford’s northern border. See additional resources on the Maryland Department of Agriculture's site for Spotted Lanternfly for up-to-date information.
For questions related to the quarantine, permitting, treatment, or to report a sighting of the spotted lanternfly, especially outside of the quarantine zone, call 410-841-5920 or email DontBug.MD@maryland.gov. If you report a spotted lanternfly via email, please provide the location of the sighting and your contact information.
At a ceremony today, USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach declared the United States free of plum pox virus. Under Secretary Ibach signed a proclamation marking this historic announcement. "Today, our 20-year fight against plum pox disease is officially over,” Under Secretary Ibach said. “Working with our partners, we’ve eliminated this disease and protected the United States’ $6.3 billion stone fruit industry." Plum pox is a serious disease impacting stone fruit such as plums, almonds, and peaches. No other countries where plum pox disease is known to occur have successfully eradicated the disease. The disease was first detected in Pennsylvania in 1999.
On October 10, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in coordination with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and New York City Department of Parks and Recreation announced that they have eliminated the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) from the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. "I am proud to say that we have eradicated Asian longhorned beetle from Brooklyn and Queens," said Greg Ibach, USDA's Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. "This officially marks the end of our 23-year long battle with this pest in New York City."
Amendments to an international treaty aimed at preventing the spread of potentially invasive species in ships' ballast water entered into force on 13 October 2019. The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004 (the BWM Convention) was adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, to address this problem. The BWM Convention entered into force in 2017. The amendments formalise an implementation schedule to ensure ships manage their ballast water to meet a specified standard ("D-2 standard") aimed at ensuring that viable organisms are not released into new sea areas, and make mandatory the Code for Approval of Ballast Water Management Systems, which sets out how ballast water management systems used to achieve the D-2 standard have to be assessed and approved. This will help ensure that aquatic organisms and pathogens are removed or rendered harmless before the ballast water is released into a new location – and avoid the spread of invasive species as well as potentially harmful pathogens.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Wildlife Resources Division confirmed someone found a northern snakehead in early October in a pond on private property in Gwinnett County, marking the first time the invasive fish has been found in the state. Fishermen who find a northern snakehead should take pictures, note where it was caught and then report it.
ARS scientists in Nevada, studied ways to control cheatgrass and restore rangelands to a healthy mix of plants, which in turn reduces wildfire threats, supports wildlife, and increases sustainable grazing resources.