- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 8, 2015

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Some invasive snails carrying parasites that are deadly to waterfowl are spreading to Wisconsin’s cold water streams, according to state wildlife officials.

Faucet snails have been discovered in a small stream in northern Wisconsin’s Langlade County near the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, the state Department of Natural Resources said. The agency collected routine samples from Elton Creek in December and identified the snails in May. One of the snails harbored the parasite that primarily kills coots and scaup, also known as bluebills.

About 120,000 birds have died since 2002 in the Upper Mississippi region because of the parasites, the National Wildlife Health Center said.

Fishing gear or waders likely were responsible for introducing the invasive species to the creek, “although boats are the number one means for invasive species to move around,” said Bob Wakeman, an aquatic invasive species coordinator with the state Department of Natural Resources.

Elton Creek is the state’s first cold water stream in which the snails have been identified. In 2009, faucet snails were found in Shawano Lake, about 35 miles away from the creek. The snails first arrived in the Great Lakes in the 1870s and have spread mainly in larger rivers in Wisconsin, including the Mississippi and Wolf, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (https://bit.ly/1NSf6iL ) reported.

The agency plans to sample additional sites later this month to access the range of the snails.

Efforts by the Department of Natural Resources to educate boaters about how they can prevent the spread of invasive species have been effective, said Tim Campbell, an aquatic invasive species specialist with the University of Wisconsin Extension and Wisconsin Sea Grant.

About 96 percent of boaters were aware of laws regarding the spread of invasive species and at least 93 percent had properly inspected or cleaned boats, surveys from the 2013 season show.

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Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, https://www.jsonline.com


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