By ERIC FREEDMAN
Capital News Service
LANSING — A 12-year-old federal program designed to educate aquarium and water garden hobbyists about the risks of invasive aquatic species is falling short in the Great Lakes region, according to a recent study. Hobbyists’ behavior is of concern because of the danger of intentionally or accidentally spreading an invader. For example, hobbyists may “transport aquatic hitchhikers that could provide a risk of invasion,” the study said. “Aquatic plants and animals introduced through channels of trade pose a significant threat to Michigan waters,” the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development reported last year. “Invasive organisms available through trade can reach Michigan’s waterways via a number of pathways, including intentional release of pets or plants purchased via retail outlets and escape from private ponds and water gardens during floods or other disturbances.”
The new study examined hobbyists’ awareness of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Habitattitude campaign launched in 2004 in partnership with the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.