invasive species

Melodie Edwards

This summer, a Nature Conservancy Program called LEAF offered urban high schoolers the chance to live and work in the shadow of Heart Mountain north of Cody. The hope is to get the kids to love Wyoming so much they’ll come back for its colleges and its jobs in conservation. Wyoming Public Radio's Melodie Edwards has more.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is studying invasive fish called burbot, to figure out what parts of the Green River they occupy at different times of year.

The department’s Darren Rhea says that could help them come up with ways to reduce the burbot population. He says burbot are problematic for the river’s ecosystem.

“They are almost exclusively a pisciverous fish, so they prey almost exclusively on other fish,” Rhea said.

Willow Belden

Each year, millions of dollars are spent controlling invasive species in Wyoming. Just about every agency you can think of is involved – from local weed and pest districts, to the Department of Game and Fish, and even the Bureau of Land Management. Many people see their efforts as an important way to protect Wyoming’s diversity. But others worry that removing invasives could sometimes do more harm than good. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

Chris Evans / Illinois Wildlife Action Plan

The Natural Resources Conservation Service and other agencies are trying to once again make room for native vegetation along riverbanks in the Bighorn Basin.

  Amy Anderson with the Game and Fish Department is helping coordinate the effort. She says Russian olive trees and other non-native plants were introduced in the 1800s, and they’ve choked out native vegetation and degraded soil and water quality.

  She says they’ve made progress removing the invasive plants from various creeks, but there’s a lot more work to be done.

Aaron Domini

Stakeholders in the Rocky Mountain region are in unanimous agreement about what needs to be done about invasive plant species. That’s according to a new study published in the journal Bioscience.

They are common invaders—cheat grass, leafy spurge, salt cedar, yellow toadflax and spotted knapweed. Project leader and UW professor Edward Barbier says that what sometimes begin as attractive lawn shrubs purchased from local nurseries can escape, and proliferate, taking over land, choking out native plants and providing less than ideal grazing material for livestock.

Starting next year, all boats that enter Wyoming will have to be inspected, to make sure they’re not carrying any aquatic invasive species.

Until now, boats had to be inspected if they passed by an open inspection station, or if they had been in a body of water that was known to host invasive species. But Beth Bear with the Game and Fish Department says under that system, many boats went un-checked.

Bear says Game and Fish is trying to make it easy for boat owners to comply with the new rules.

The Game and Fish Department has found a new invasive species in Wyoming. It’s an alligator snapping turtle, which is native to southeastern states and can grow to be more than 200 pounds.

Lucy Diggins with the Game and Fish office in Green River says a fisherman caught the turtle on a lake near Pinedale over the weekend.

“He snagged what he thought was a turtle, using a lure, and quickly realized that this huge, armored turtle, with huge jaws and a long tail, probably was not a Wyoming native species,” Diggins said.