Public comment sought on addition of 3 species to Arizona's aquatic invasive species list

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is seeking public input on the proposed addition of three potentially harmful aquatic invasive species to the Director’s Orders list.

Directors Orders help address the monitoring and prevention of spread of aquatic invasive plants and wildlife in Arizona.

The three proposed candidates to be added are:

  • Northern snakehead. These fish have a torpedo-like body shape and can grow to more than 2-1/2 feet in length. Their native range is China and Korea and they have been found in certain areas in the U.S., although not yet in Arizona waters. They are listed as restricted live wildlife in the state. Snakeheads are voracious predators, and their spread to Arizona could affect other populations of fish, amphibians and invertebrates through direct predation, competition for food resources, and alteration of food webs. For more information on Arizona’s risk analysis of northern snakeheads, visit www.azgfd.gov/h_f/documents/AIS-NorthernSnakeheadRisk.pdf.
  • Asian carp. Three species of Asian carp—silver, black, and bighead—are currently recommended for addition to the list of aquatic invasive species. They are native to temperate and sub-tropical eastern Asia and have generally not yet been found in Arizona, although some bighead carp have been noted in Kennedy Lake (an AZGFD Urban Fishing Program water) in Tucson. Silver, black and bighead carp are listed as restricted live wildlife in the state. These large-bodied fish can grow to as much as 75-100 pounds, depending on species, and spread quickly after introduction, becoming abundant and hurting native fish either by damaging habitats or by consuming vast amounts of food. They have few, if any, predators and can put extreme pressure on the base of the food chain (plants, algae, phytoplankton) and dramatically alter aquatic ecosystems. They can also carry and transmit aquatic diseases into these invaded environments. For more information on Arizona’s risk analysis of Asian carp, visit www.azgfd.gov/h_f/documents/AIS-AsianCarpRisk.pdf.
  • Apple snail has a number of species with shells that are globular in shape and can grow to nearly 6 inches in length, depending on species. They are native to parts of South America and small portions of the southern U.S., but they have spread to other parts of the country and in Asia. In Arizona, they have been found in the Colorado River near Yuma and in the Lower Salt River near Granite Reef. They are not currently on the list of restricted live wildlife in the state. Apple snails could present a major risk to our state’s native wetland ecosystems and agricultural community, potentially competing with native species for limited resources, introducing parasites, and having significant impacts on agricultural crops. They have the potential to alter freshwater habitats, significantly causing shifts in ecosystem state and function. For more information on Arizona’s risk analysis of apple snails, visit www.azgfd.gov/h_f/documents/AIS-AppleSnailRisk.pdf.

To submit comments regarding the proposed addition of these three species to Arizona’s list of aquatic invasive species in Director’s Order #1, and the associated updates to the list of affected waters (Director’s Order #2) and the mandatory conditions for moving a boat from or between affected waters (Director’s Order #3), please e-mail your comments or concerns to AIScomments@azgfd.gov. The deadline to submit comment is Friday, April 27.

For more information, please visit www.azgfd.gov/ais.

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