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Invasive plant found in Oconto County, first time ever found in the wild

Local News
Photo courtesy of WI DNR

Photo courtesy of WI DNR

OCONTO, Wis. (WFRV) – An invasive plant that was originally found in Europe and parts of Asia and Africa, was found growing in an unnamed stream just north of Oconto.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), European frogbit is a prohibited invasive plant that has the potential to invade shallow or slow-moving water. It was found for the first time in the state of Wisconsin.

European frogbit is known for its petite lily pad-like leaves and elusive white flower. Under Wisconsin’s invasive species rule, European frogbit is prohibited across the state and is illegal to transfer, sell, possess, transport or introduce into the state.

The DNR says that the only other finding of European frogbit in Wisconsin was back in 2018 at a nurse in southern Wisconsin. The closes known wild population is in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Back in late July 2021, a botanist found the plant growing in an unnamed stream and throughout the adjacent drainage ditches just north of Oconto. European frogbit can reportedly form large colonies of dense floating mats that dramatically affect native aquatic life and recreational activities.

“The streams, wetlands and drainages along the west shore of Green Bay are highly valued ecosystems for many fish species including Northern Pike, Yellow Perch, and many forage fish along with many species of birds, amphibians, and native plants,” said Ken Dolata, Department Head for the Oconto County Land Conservation Department.

When European frogbit forms the large colonies, it can become dense enough to reduce light that native plants need. The plant can also hinder the movement of large fish and diving ducks.

How does an invasive plant like this get introduced? Well Amanda Smith who is a DNR Invasive Species Specialist, says there are multiple ways for it to happen.

“There are numerous ways that plants such as this get introduced. For this population in particular, movement by boats is likely as there is a nearby boat launch that is heavily used by boaters from throughout the Midwest who travel long distances to experience the Green Bay fishery,” says Smith.

The DNR says that efforts to remove the plant will start in the coming days and will continue throughout the summer and following years. The DNR is also starting to reach out to sportsmen, local garden clubs, bait shops and at public events.

  • Photo courtesy of WI DNR

As for what the public can do to help reduce the spread? The DNR provided the following steps:

  • Use native plant species whenver possible
  • Bag and dispose of unwatned seeds or invasive plants in the trash, labeled ‘Approved for landfilling by DNR’
  • Be on the lookout for invasive species
  • Respond aggressively to rdi your land of new invasive species
  • Leave native trees and plants alone; natural alndscapes offer the best defense
  • When traveling on foot in natural areas, alwasy brush boots and waders clean of seeds, mud and other debris
  • Inspect boats, trailers and equipment for aquatic plants or animals
  • Remove all attached plants or animals
  • Drain all water from boats, motors, livewells and other equipment
  • Never move live fish away from a waterbody

The public can report an invasive species on the DNR’s website.

Click here for more information regarding European frogbit.

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