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Help protect the precious waters of Arizona
Arizona offers year round fishing and boating opportunities. Some locations such as the Colorado River, Lake Havasu, Lake Powell, and the Salt River are well known throughout the country. Arizona's quality waters are extremely valuable both as a natural and economic resource. Sportfishing alone generates $831 million in retail sales annually. These resources are being threatened by plants and animals that can hitchhike on your recreational equipment. Help protect Arizona's valuable natural resources by learning what you can do to Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers.
What are Aquatic Hitchhikers?

Aquatic hitchhikers also known as nuisance and invasive species:

  • Include both plants (such as salvinia, hydrilla), animals (such as zebra mussels, crayfish and New Zealand mudsnails) and diseases and pathogens.
  • Are not native to Arizona. Although not all non-native species are bad, some can be devastating. Click here for examples.
  • Cause physical and economic damages to our recreational, commercial, environmental, cultural or historic resources and/or create public health problems. Click here to find out more negative impacts.
  • Can impair water resources. Water is life in the desert and aquatic nuisance species that impair water resources, wildlife health, water quality or water conveyance, threaten us all.
Is Arizona being invaded by nuisance species?

The answer is yes. All states struggle with nuisance species, but Arizona's climate provides a perfect environment for plants and animals to survive and thrive. Several nuisance species such as crayfish and bullfrogs are well established in Arizona and they have negatively impacted native species. Thanks to individuals who have become knowledgeable about hitchhikers, devastating species such as the zebra mussel have been discovered and removed from boats before they were launched. To continue to protect Arizona's resources, everyone who uses Arizona waters needs to do his/her part.

What can you do to Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers?

Prevention is Key. Preventing the spread of aquatic nuisance species is the most environmentally sound and cost-effective method for battling aquatic hitchhikers. If these species become established, they can be impossible to contain and control. Aquatic hitchhikers can easily be transported to new waters by boats, motors, trailers, fishing equipment, livewells, bait buckets, diving gear, and other recreational equipment. They can also be put into our waters by individuals who are not aware of the environmental and economic damages these nuisance plants and animals can cause.

Clean all recreational equipment before and after using all waters. Follow a simple prevention procedure each time. If you follow these procedures, it is not necessary to know what nuisance species may be in what waters; the procedure will reduce the possibility of any unwanted hitchhikers being released in any of your favorite waters. Click here for a list of prevention procedures.

Do not release or put plants, fish or other animals into a body of water unless they came out of that body of water. Also do not release them into storm drains, because most storm drains lead to bodies of water or wetlands. Bait: Do not release unused bait into waters. Also check regulations before using bait. Aquarium pets: Do not release anything from an aquarium into any body of water or storm drain.

Report sightings of aquatic nuisance species to your local Arizona Game and Fish Department office or call toll-free to: (877) STOP-ANS or (877) 786-7267.

Learn More. Some recreational users want to know more and also get involved in local programs that help to protect their waters. Search the various links throughout this site to learn about specific types of nuisance species, the kinds of impacts they can create, or activities in which you can bet involved. For Arizona specific information visit www.azgfd.gov

Arizona's Top 10 Most Unwanted Species

Click here for details on each one. *Denotes the species is already in Arizona.

  1. Giant salvinia*
  2. Bullfrogs*
  3. Crayfish*
  4. Zebra mussels
  5. New Zealand Mudsnail*
  6. Northern snakehead
  7. Hydrilla*
  8. Golden algae*
  9. Whirling disease
  10. Silver and bighead carp
Press Releases

Arizona Recreational Users Called Upon to Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers (.doc)
Golden Algae Discovered In Arizona (.doc)

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The Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers web site is part of the ANS Task Force public
awareness campaign and is sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
and the U.S. Coast Guard.

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Check out the Latest News about the Stop Aquatic Hitchhiker Campaign and the aquatic hitchhiker problem.

Common Hitchhikers

Zebra Mussels
Whirling Disease
Spiny Water Fleas
Round Gobies
Water Hyacinth

Video Clips
Asian Carp in the Upper Mississippi River
(Real Video format)

Round Goby
(Quicktime Format)
New Audio Messages for Traveler Information Systems
Zebra Mussel (mp3)
Zebra Mussel #2 (mp3)