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Published on: Jan. 2, 2008

Last revision: Dec. 6, 2010

Northern Snakehead

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Rusty Crayfish

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Missouri is a watery wonderland. We have 17 large reservoirs, totaling more than 250,000 surface acres, and about 500,000 smaller public and private lakes and ponds. In addition, approximately 17,000 miles of permanent streams and rivers and another 39,000 miles of intermittent headwater streams flow through the state.

Nonnative nuisance species pose a grave threat to these important water resources. These species arrive by migrating through open river systems or by being accidentally or intentionally released into public or private waters.

Aquatic nuisance species are defined as nonnative species that threaten the diversity or abundance of native aquatic species, the ecological stability of infected waters, or the commercial, agricultural, aquacultural or recreational activities dependent on such waters.

Even aquatic species that are native to Missouri can become aquatic nuisance species when they are moved into drainages where they do not normally live. Such “inter-basin transfers” can be just as damaging to native ecosystems as introductions of species from other continents.

Because invasive aquatic species threaten our water resources and the public recreation they offer, we have to divert large amounts of research and management funds to their prevention and control.

Controlling Aquatic Nuisance Species

People who fish in Missouri spend more than $1 billion a year on their sport. Aquatic nuisance species directly threaten this and other vital economic activity. The Missouri Department of Conservation is doing all it can to protect our state’s aquatic ecosystems and the benefits they provide.

We have identified 12 aquatic nuisance species in Missouri waters and eight more that might arrive in the near future. (See “Current and Potential Threats.”)

The Department’s efforts to prevent, control and mitigate the effects of aquatic nuisance species in Missouri are detailed in the Aquatic Nuisance Species Management Plan (visit www.MissouriConservation.org/8418 to view the plan online). The plan is designed to address invasions at several different stages.

First of all, the plan calls for identifying and implementing all possible actions necessary to stop the introduction of new aquatic nuisance species from any area outside Missouri. It also develops methods to detect and to stop the spread of nuisance species into new aquatic habitats within Missouri.

In cases where introductions of aquatic nuisance species have already occurred, the plan calls for minimizing the effects of these species on native biological communities, as well as reducing any socioeconomic and public health impacts that might arise.

Potential Viral Invader

Like plant and animal invaders, invading viruses can cause problems for many of Missouri’s aquatic

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