What are Aquatic Hitchhikers?
Aquatic hitchhikers also known as nuisance and invasive species:
- Include both plants (such as salvinia, hydrilla), animals (such as zebra mussels, crayfish and New Zealand mudsnails) and diseases and pathogens.
- Are not native to Arizona. Although not all non-native species are bad, some can be devastating. Click here for examples.
- Cause physical and economic damages to our recreational, commercial, environmental, cultural or historic resources and/or create public health problems. Click here to find out more negative impacts.
- Can impair water resources. Water is life in the desert and aquatic nuisance species that impair water resources, wildlife health, water quality or water conveyance, threaten us all.
Is Arizona being invaded by nuisance species?
The answer is yes. All states struggle with nuisance species, but Arizona's climate provides a perfect environment for plants and animals to survive and thrive. Several nuisance species such as crayfish and bullfrogs are well established in Arizona and they have negatively impacted native species. Thanks to individuals who have become knowledgeable about hitchhikers, devastating species such as the zebra mussel have been discovered and removed from boats before they were launched. To continue to protect Arizona's resources, everyone who uses Arizona waters needs to do his/her part.
What can you do to Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers?
Prevention is Key. Preventing the spread of aquatic nuisance species is the most environmentally sound and cost-effective method for battling aquatic hitchhikers. If these species become established, they can be impossible to contain and control. Aquatic hitchhikers can easily be transported to new waters by boats, motors, trailers, fishing equipment, livewells, bait buckets, diving gear, and other recreational equipment. They can also be put into our waters by individuals who are not aware of the environmental and economic damages these nuisance plants and animals can cause.
Clean all recreational equipment before and after using all waters. Follow a simple prevention
procedure each time. If you follow these procedures,
it is not necessary to know what nuisance species
may be in what waters; the procedure will reduce the
possibility of any unwanted hitchhikers being released
in any of your favorite waters. Click here
for a list of prevention procedures.
Do not release or put plants, fish or other animals into a body of water unless they came out of that body of water. Also do not release them into storm drains, because most storm drains lead to bodies of water or wetlands. Bait: Do not release unused bait into waters. Also check regulations before using bait. Aquarium pets: Do not release anything from an aquarium into any body of water or storm drain.
Report sightings of aquatic nuisance species to your local Arizona Game and Fish Department office or call toll-free to: (877) STOP-ANS or (877) 786-7267.
Learn More. Some recreational
users want to know more and also get involved in local
programs that help to protect their waters. Search
the various links throughout this site to learn about
specific types of nuisance species,
the kinds of impacts they can create, or activities
in which you can bet involved. For Arizona specific
information visit www.azgfd.gov
Arizona's Top 10 Most Unwanted Species
Click here for details on each one. *Denotes the species is already in Arizona.
- Giant salvinia*
- Zebra mussels
- New Zealand Mudsnail*
- Northern snakehead
- Golden algae*
- Whirling disease
- Silver and bighead carp
Arizona Recreational Users Called Upon to Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers (.doc)
Golden Algae Discovered In Arizona (.doc)