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Stop the Spread

There are many things you can do to help stem the tide of invasive species. One of the most effective ways to manage invasive species is for recreationalists such as boaters, fishermen, pet owners, and gardeners to Take Action. Here are some easy everyday things you can do to meet the Invasive Species Challenge:

Boaters and Anglers

You can “Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers” by following these tips for preventing the transportation of aquatic invasive species:

  • Inspect your boat, trailer and gear and remove all plants, animals and foreign objects from hulls, propellers, intakes, trailers, and gear before leaving a launch area.
  • Drain all water from your boat, including the motor, bilge, livewells and bait buckets before leaving a lake.
  • Wash your boat, trailer and other equipment before traveling to a new waterway.
  • If you are leaving a water body that is known to have zebra mussels, leave your boat and trailer out of the water for at least a week or wash it at a commercial car wash using high-pressure, hot (140 degrees F) soapy water to kill microscopic zebra mussel larvae that may be hitching a ride.
  • Never transport water, animals, or plants from one waterbody to another -- either intentionally or accidentally! Do not release live fish, including bait, into a new body of water.
  • Anglers should be sure to remove material from and wash all fishing tackle, downriggers and lines to prevent spreading small, larval forms of aquatic invaders.
  • Before leaving any body of water, examine all your equipment, boats, trailers, clothing, boots, buckets etc and remove any visible plants, fish or animals. Remove mud and dirt and even the smallest plant fragments.
  • Whether you have obtained bait at a store or from another body of water, do not release unused bait into the waters you are fishing. If you do not plan to use the bait in the future, dump the bait in a trashcan or on the land, far enough away from the water that it cannot impact this resource. Also, be aware of bait regulations, because in Texas it is illegal to transport live bait from waters where invasive carp have been found.

Pet, Aquarium or Water Garden Owners

If you have acquired an undesirable pet or fish species for your aquarium or water garden, it is important not to release these plants or animals into the environment. Follow these tips for aquarium hobbyists and backyard pond owners.

  • Buy from reputable dealers, whose non-native pets are properly labeled, legally imported, and not harboring foreign pests and diseases.
  • Don't release aquarium fish, other animals, or plants of any kind into a natural body of water. Some ornamental fish can and have established themselves in the wild and have a negative impact on native species. Lionfish and the algae eater, Plecostomus, are examples. Check out "Never Dump Your Aquarium" for additional information.
  • Don't release pets into the wild. Cats prey on small mammals and birds, and some pet amphibians and reptiles can impact native species and carry diseases.
  • When you and your pet are in an area with known invasive plants, be sure to remove all seeds from your clothing and your pets fur before traveling to a new place.

Travelers, Hikers, Bikers, Birders, and Campers

If you engage in terrestrial recreational activitivities like camping, hiking, biking or birding, take care not to be an unwitting vehicle of dispersion.

  • Don't transport items such as fire wood, hay, soil, or sod from one area to another. They may contain seeds, diseases, insects, or other potentially invasive organisms that are not yet found in Texas.
  • Prevent carrying invasive species on your cars, bicycles and motorcycles. Check vehicles for seeds and pieces of plants.
  • Wash your boots and socks before you hike in a new area. Invasive weed seeds are common hitchhikers.
  • Abide by local laws to prevent the spread of serious insect pests (like the Emerald Ash Borer), weeds (like Cogongrass), and diseases (like Oak Wilt).


Not all non-native species are bad, but some plants that look lovely in your garden might be harmful invaders that will make their way into natural areas. Learn to be plantwise for some easy tips on how to manage your garden to preserve the unique qualities of neighboring wildlands.

  • If you don't know it, don't grow it!
  • Avoid exotic plants that self seed and show up outside of your garden.
  • If you see your local nursery selling invasive plants or seeds, let them know about your concerns.
  • Landscape and garden with plants native to your area. Visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center's Native Plant Information Network for resources to help with creating low-maintenance and colorful native plant gardens.