'How much do we know about Aquatic Invasive Species, like zebra mussels?', is the big question behind a survey launched by the Pelican Lake Healthy Lake Committee. 

Committee chair, Trevor Maguire, says the mission behind the online survey is to ascertain the level of knowledge that the average person has on Aquatic Invasive Species as a whole, but more even more specifically, zebra mussels.  

'Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are fish, invertebrate or plant species that have been introduced into a new aquatic environment, outside of their natural range,' states the Healthy Lake Committee website. 'Once introduced, aquatic invasive species populations can grow quickly because they don’t have natural predators in their new environment. As a result, they can outcompete and harm native species. They can even alter habitats to make them inhospitable for the native species.'

'AIS are a major threat to the health of Manitoba lakes and recreational fisheries, and educating the general public about the potential harms they can cause is key to preventing the spread of AIS. Please view the videos below about AIS and their effects on native fish populations and habitat. There are also links to different types of AIS that are a threat to Pelican Lake and other Manitoba lakes

Maguire says there are a number of initiatives going forward, including the provincial government, and the Riding Mountain Biosphere Group, to try to slow down the spread of species that don't belong in our lakes, such as zebra mussels, spiny water flea, rusty crayfish, etc.

"But to know where to start, at what level to start depends on where the average person and the public is," notes Maguire. 

He says if signage is needed to explain what zebra mussels are, and why they're a threat, then that's a good place to start.  However, if the majority already knows about zebra mussels and how easy it is to 'infect' a body of water but don't know how to decontaminate their watercraft or equipment, then that's a better place to start.

"Do we need to tell people what zebra mussels are? Where they're a threat? Why they're a threat? Do we need to tell people how to decontaminate their boats? Where is the public at?" he asks.  "That's the purpose of this survey, just to ascertain the average level of knowledge in the average person, and then that will be used this winter in a number of committees to make some decisions as to how to proceed; what's the best use of resources, because there's not a lot of resources."

"And," he adds, "there's a lot of people asking questions.  I've had lots of calls from councillors.  I've had calls from lots of people, and everybody wants to do something, but nobody knows what to do."

To participate in the online survey, click HERE!

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