Now is the time to register for the 2020 Lionfish Challenge! The Lionfish Challenge is an incentive program that rewards harvesters for their lionfish removals. With a tiered system, everybody can be a winner. The participant who harvests the most lionfish will be crowned the Lionfish King/Queen. The Challenge is open now and will run through November 1. You can register for the 2020 Lionfish Challenge and find more information at FWCReefRangers.com/Lionfish-Challenge. Questions regarding the challenge can be sent to Lionfish@MyFWC.com.
An Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist in the Pacific Northwest has joined the hunt for the infamous Asian giant hornet (AGH) — a threat to honey bees in its native territory that could also endanger honey bees in the United States if it becomes established here. AGH is also a health concern for people with bee or wasp allergies. At roughly 2 inches in length, this invasive species from Southeast Asia is the world's largest hornet. It has distinctive markings: a large orange or yellow head and black-and-orange stripes across its body. While the hornet's sting delivers a potent venom that can cause severe reactions—and in some cases, death—in some people who are allergic to bee stings, attacks against humans are rare. AGH earned its bad reputation from the way it hunts down honey bees and other insects, primarily during the late summer months when it seeks protein to feed its young.
U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, Douglas W. Domenech announced $942,206 in fiscal year (FY) 2020 Coral Reef and Natural Resources Initiative grants to eradicate and control the spread of invasive species in the U.S. territories of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), as well as in the Republic of Palau, and Yap, in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). Funding will be used to introduce biological control of coconut rhinoceros beetles, control and eradicate feral cats and monitor lizards, and destroy wild vines, all of which are disruptive to ecological systems and impacting communities and livelihoods in the islands.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has again reopened the comment period on the protocols for regulating and deregulating pale cyst nematode (PCN)-infested and associated areas. APHIS initially accepted comments on the protocols March 1, 2019, and again on June 26, 2019 for 30 days. APHIS is providing the public with an additional opportunity to comment on the science supporting the protocols, including the sources of the methods informing their content. In an effort to give all interested parties ample opportunities to comment, we are reopening the comment period for 30 days beginning June 5, 2020 and ending July 6, 2020. Members of the public are encouraged to participate in the development of these protocols by submitting comments starting on the day of publication until July 6, 2020 at: http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2018-0041.
New research by NOAA and partners finds that two species of invasive Asian carp -- the bighead carp and silver carp, collectively known as bigheaded carps -- could be capable of establishing populations in Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron and affecting the health of ecologically and economically important fish species such as yellow perch. The research, appearing online in the journal Biological Invasions, is based on a new model that simulates interactions between the bigheaded carps and a range of fish species, including walleye, yellow perch, and groups lower on the food web over a time period of 50 years. Over 180 non-indigenous aquatic species have already become established in the Great Lakes, with a handful of these producing substantial negative impacts. While bigheaded carps are established in watersheds near the Great Lakes, they have not yet become established in the Great Lakes.
The United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is announcing that effective today, we are transitioning our virulent Newcastle disease (vND) efforts in southern California from a response focus to implementing a prevention plan aimed at keeping vND from recurring in the region. Even with extensive testing taking place, APHIS has not confirmed any new vND cases since February 1, 2020. As a result, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is removing its vND quarantine.
On May 29, the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) reported the first confirmed sighting of an Asian giant hornet in Washington this year. On May 27, a resident near Custer, Wash. found the dead specimen while walking on a roadway. The resident submitted a photo and report using WSDA's online Hornet Watch Report Form. On May 28, WSDA entomologists concluded that the photo appeared to show an Asian giant hornet. The hornet was detected near the location of a suspected Asian giant hornet bee kill in 2019. WSDA had already planned trapping in the area and will maintain that plan to try to find any colony that may be there. The first find of the year in the United States comes just days after the British Columbian government confirmed their first detection of the year in Canada near Langley, B.C. That specimen was initially reported to authorities on May 15. Asian giant hornet is the world's largest hornet and a predator of honey bees and other insects. A small group of Asian giant hornets can kill an entire honey bee hive in a matter of hours. Visit agr.wa.gov/hornets to learn more about Asian giant hornets and the state's trapping and eradication project.
The European Commission has adopted a comprehensive new Biodiversity Strategy to bring nature back into our lives and a Farm to Fork Strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system. The two strategies are mutually reinforcing, bringing together nature, farmers, business and consumers for jointly working towards a competitively sustainable future. The new Biodiversity Strategy tackles the key drivers of biodiversity loss, such as unsustainable use of land and sea, overexploitation of natural resources, pollution, and invasive alien species. The strategy proposes to, among others, establish binding targets to restore damaged ecosystems and rivers, improve the health of EU protected habitats and species, bring back pollinators to agricultural land, reduce pollution, green our cities, enhance organic farming and other biodiversity-friendly farming practices, and improve the health of European forests. The strategy brings forward concrete steps to put Europe's biodiversity on the path to recovery by 2030, including transforming at least 30% of Europe's lands and seas into effectively managed protected areas and bringing back at least 10% of agricultural area under high-diversity landscape features.
Officials at the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) announced in June 2017 that DOI would coordinate with the Western Governors' Association, states, tribes, federal agencies, and other partners in a project to help strengthen existing efforts to address invasive mussels. The actions described in the 2017 report, Safeguarding the West from Invasive Species, Actions to Strengthen Federal, State, and Tribal Coordination to Address Invasive Mussels (PDF | 1.3 MB), vary from policy and program reviews to on-the-ground efforts to prevent, contain, and control invasive mussels. One recommendation in Safeguarding the West was the development of a reference manual to facilitate rapid response activities in the event of mussel introductions in the Columbia River Basin. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently finalized and released this manual, Dreissenid Mussel Rapid Response in the Columbia River Basin: Recommended Practices to Facilitate Endangered Species Act Section 7 Compliance (PDF | 3.63 MB).
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is urging anglers to report and dispose of any invasive Northern Snakehead fish that may be caught in the lower Susquehanna River. This advisory follows the documented movement of 21 Northern Snakeheads past the Conowingo Dam into the Conowingo Pool, a 14-mile-long section of the Susquehanna River located between the Conowingo Dam in Maryland and the Holtwood Dam in Pennsylvania. Anglers are reminded that possession, transport, and importation of a live snakehead is unlawful in both Pennsylvania and Maryland. Any of these invasive fish that are caught should be killed and disposed of properly or consumed. Anglers who suspect they have caught a snakehead are encouraged to NOT release it, and report it to the PFBC at (610) 847-2442 or by sending an email to email@example.com. For more information on Northern Snakeheads in Pennsylvania, including an identification guide, visit the PFBC snakehead resource page.