The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is gearing up to address the growing threat of invasive species with a series of virtual information sessions. The focus is on proposed revisions to the state's Invasive Species Identification, Classification, and Control Rule (ch. NR 40, Wis. Adm. Code). The Wisconsin Invasive Species Council, a governor-appointed group advising the DNR and state legislature, is spearheading these efforts. The initiative aims to maintain transparency, engage the public, and gather valuable feedback on the proposed regulations.

Credit: Heiko119
Credit: Heiko119                                    Asian Longhorn Beetle

When will these virtual information sessions take place?

The Wisconsin Invasive Species Council is set to host four virtual information sessions over the next two months. These sessions, held from 6 to 7:30pm, will provide a platform for the public to learn about and contribute to the proposed revisions. Each session will feature Species Assessment Groups—comprising experts and representatives who offer insights on specific species.

  • Wednesday, February 21st: Terrestrial Vertebrates, Terrestrial Invertebrates & Plant Disease-Causing Organisms And Fish & Wildlife Diseases Species Assessment Groups.
  • Wednesday, February 28th: Noncommercial Use Plants And Agronomic Plants Species Assessment Groups.
  • Wednesday, March 13th: Aquatic Plants, Aquatic Invertebrates And Fish & Crayfish Species Assessment Groups.
  • Wednesday, March 20th: Herbaceous Ornamental Plants And Woody Ornamental Plants Species Assessment Groups
Credit: DERO2084 Giant Hogweed
Credit: DERO2084
Giant Hogweed

Invasive Species Overview and the current NR 40 Lists:

Invasive species are non-native plants and animals that wreak havoc on ecosystems, the environment, and the economy. Some can even pose risks to human health. Chapter NR 40, established in 2009, classifies invasive species in Wisconsin as Prohibited or Restricted. The regulation covers aspects such as transportation, possession, transfer, and introduction of these species to the area ecosystem. Additionally, it outlines "Preventative Measures" aimed at slowing the spread of invasive species.

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Why should we be concerned about invasive species: plant, animal, or other?

Invasive species often thrive by leaving their predators and competitors behind in their native ecosystems. This absence of natural checks and balances allows them to reproduce rapidly and out-compete native species. The consequences include disruptions to ecological relationships, altered ecosystem functions, economic losses, and potential threats to human health.

Credit: UKNOW How-to Videos YouTube Channel Adult Emerald Ash Borer
Credit: UKNOW How-to Videos YouTube Channel
Adult Emerald Ash Borer

Statistics reveal that about 42% of species on the federal Threatened or Endangered lists are at risk primarily due to invasive species. This underscores the urgency of effective management strategies to mitigate the impact on biodiversity.

Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Big Head Carp
Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Big Head Carp

The list of highlighted invasive species includes familiar names such as the Asian long-horned beetle, common carp, emerald ash borer, and zebra mussel. Plants like Canadian thistles and Asia's Tree of Heaven also make the list, along with serious fungal issues like White-nose syndrome fungal pathogen in bats, and something called Killer Algae. The regulations associated with each species are crucial in curbing their spread, informing the public, and minimizing their impact on the local ecosystems.

How can I get involved with local conservation?

To encourage public participation and feedback, the DNR has provided information on how to register for the virtual sessions. Interested individuals can visit the DNR's meetings and hearings calendar for registration details. The Wisconsin Invasive Species Council's webpage also contains comprehensive information, including slide shows, species lists, and regulatory recommendations. By inviting public input through virtual information sessions, the council aims to create a collaborative effort in refining regulations that effectively combat the spread of invasive speciesin Wisconsin.

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