Don't let it loose

1:02 PM, Oct 22, 2021

1. Montana’s native aquatic animals and the danger that invasive species can pose to them.

  • Some of Montana’s native frogs, turtles, and salamanders. Point out unique features or species status to inform views and generate pride in MT native species.
    • Native species are the ultimate sense of “home” = reflect millions of years if surviving in these native habitats so literally are a reflection of the uniqueness of a place.
    • Painted turtle
    • Snapping turtle (east vs. west)
    • Spiny softshell
    • Boreal Chorus Frog
    • Pacific Tree Frog
    • Plains spadefoot
    • Tailed frogs
    • Leopard frog
    • Columbia spotted frog
    • Great plains, western, woodhouses toads
  • Invasive Aquatic Species that are in Montana and how they impact the native species. (bullfrog & snapping turtle in western MT).
    • Invasives have lost their competition and predation, can completely take over to the detriment and possible extirpation of native species
    • Pond sliders
    • Snapping turtles (Note that snapping turtles are native to eastern MT but not western MT)
    • American bullfrog
    • Others that could come in? Climate change, habitat manipulations, newcomers!
  • How to identify bullfrog and snapping turtle
    • Bullfrog = large size, tympanum larger than eye, fold of skin from mouth to front leg, distinctive call,
    • Snapping turtle = large size, long tail at least as long as shell, plastron (ventral shell) covers only part of underside, keeled scales on shell
      • If in Western MT, learn painted turtle and report anything that isn’t that!
  • What public can do to stop invasive species (next video gets into more details).
    • Do not move/release animals, some public do not realize the consequences.
    • Report sightings
      • Learn range of bullfrogs and report observations outside of that range
    • Habitat manipulation on your property
    • Talk to your friends and neighbors, new and old
    • Clean, drain, dry!
  • Where to report sightings of invasive.
    • Do we want to direct people to a website or phone number? This could be viewed by audiences statewide.
      • For snapping turtles or any other non-native reptile west of the continental divide, report to torrey.ritter@mt.gov
      • Do not report bullfrogs unless they appear to be clearly outside the known range (see MTNHP for range maps)

2. Don’t Let It Loose campaign (ISAN, stopais.org) to inform aquarium pet owners about the proper way to dispose of unwanted pets.

  • Examples include snails on moss balls, bullfrogs, crayfish, goldfish, snakes, etc.
  • Aquarium pet owners have responsibility to take care of their pets (fish, frogs, turtles, etc.).
  • If no longer able to care for pets, never dump in natural waterways.
  • Be a responsible pet owner and find someone to adopt the pets, contact local humane society, pet rescue organizations.
  • Problems with dumping aquariums into natural waterways
    • Pet will die because not capable of surviving in the wild OR pet will become an invasive species and impact MT native species and habitats.
    • Aquarium plants can become invasive weeds, how curly leaf pond weed and Eurasian watermilfoil.
    • Potential diseases in aquarium tank water.
    • Do you want to talk about chytrid fungus?
    • Fish (goldfish) can infest waters, ruin fishing opportunities by pushing out native/desirable fish species.
  • Go to www.DontLetItLoose.com for more information.

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