Aquatic Invasive Species - AIS

Aquatic Invasive Species

Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are non-native plants, fish, microscopic organisms and viral pathogens that enter a water body and become established, generally by out-competing native organisms.  Their presence causes, or is likely to cause, environmental or economic harm, and can be detrimental to human health. 

  • AIS may enter a water body in many ways, but the most common method is the movement of a boat from one lake or river to another lake or river.
  • Boats transport AIS through water in bilges, ballast tanks, live wells, bait buckets, boat motors, and when AIS plant material is left hanging on trailers. Fish lines and anchor ropes provide transport for smaller AIS organisms.
  • AIS compete with and can out-compete native organisms. They then are able to disrupt normal biodiversity, decrease water clarity, slow fish growth, cause fish infections and death, and contribute to algal blooms.  Surface matts of AIS plant material can obstruct boating and swimming, and shells of dead zebra mussels (not currently found in Manitowish Waters) can cut swimmers feet.

To learn more about the primary species of current concern in Manitowish Waters and the related control methods, please click on the following links:

Eurasian Watermilfoil Alert!

Eurasian Watermilfoil (EWM) is a prolific invasive aquatic plant and was found on July 15th 2023 by an individual while canoeing on the water.  EWM had not previously been identified in Manitowish Waters’ lakes or rivers. After suspected plants from Alder Lake and the channel between Alder and Manitowish Lakes were verified as being EWM by county and DNR staff, subsequent methodical surveying was done.  No plants were identified in Alder Lake, however 3 medium colonies and 27 other locations of rooted plants were found in the channel between Alder Lake and Manitowish Lake, and at 4 sites on Manitowish Lake.

Critically important removal processes will begin in 2024.  Of vital importance is that lake users take time to look for and learn how to identify EWM to help stop the spread of this invasive plant. Visit the Events page on this website to remain current on plant identification learning opportunities and AIS related activities.

Volunteer Monitoring The First Line of Defense

How does AIS Volunteering Actually Work?

Is it hard?  Do you have to have a science background?  Do you need to commit to long hours on a set schedule?

The answers:  no, no and no.  The strength of the volunteer program to monitor for the presence of AIS is that it is easy, can be done by just about anyone, and can be done when you want to and how much you want to.

When boating, look at fragments of floating weeds you encounter while out on the lake.  Paddlers, glide into the shallows with your canoe or kayak and peer down into the water and check out what’s growing.  If you are a swimmer or someone who walks the shoreline, see what you find washed up on the shore.  And anglers, check out the weeds you snag or what comes in on your anchor rope. 

Monitor when you want.  If you have 15 minutes—great.  Going to be boating or fishing for a few hours—great again.  Want to dedicate some time when you are exclusively looking for AIS—super!

So there really are two answers to how AIS volunteering works.  The first is that it works how it best fits with you.  And the second answer is…it works great!  Both the first Curley-leaf Pondweed sample and the first Eurasian Watermilfoil samples found were by AIS volunteers.