May is Invasive Species Awareness Month and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is spreading the word. Being aware of invasive species isn’t just a one-month affair, according to the IDNR. “Invasive species of plants and animals and fish can cause all sorts of problems for the native species that we like here in Illinois,” says IDNR spokesman Tim Schweitzer.
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In the northern part of the state, the Emerald Ash Borer has been a problem, causing the loss of many trees. Schweitzer says you’re more likely to spot the damage of the Ash Borers larvae. The Ash Borer is also the reason transportation of firewood is illegal in Illinois. “If you buy firewood to burn at your campground at a state park you need to burn that firewood on site. You do not want to move that wood from one location to another,” Schweitzer says. If Ash Borer damage is spotted, homeowners should contact their local unit of government of the Illinois Department of Agriculture. There are certain steps boaters must take to not spread invasive species. Water in bait buckets, live wells and bilges must be dumped before transporting and launching watercraft from one body of water to another. “The regulations insist that you make sure that no natural water from any waterway is transported from one place to another,” Schweitzer says. Water can carry eggs from invasive species like the Asian Carp and other invasive species like zebra mussels.
Back on land, Kudzu remains a concern in the southern part of the state. Schweitzer says land owners should report Kudzu to the IDNR for help in eradicating or keeping the destructive plant from spreading. Schweitzer says the IDNR is also trying to get a jump on a growing problem before it gets worse – feral hogs. A longtime problem in the South, feral hogs are popping up in Illinois. “The feral hog issue is more prominent in other states than it is here in Illinois, but we’d like it to not become a major problem in the state,” Schweitzer says. “There are a few pockets in Downstate Illinois where landowners have reported some significant damage to crops and landscape as a result of wild pigs.” If feral hogs are suspected, landowners should contact the IDNR.