Ontario’s minister of natural resources and forestry says the province remains committed to tackling invasive species.
Kathryn McGarry was in Peterborough on Wednesday to highlight new investments to combat invasive species. This year, the province is investing $1.6 million for a number of initiatives such as the Invading Species Awareness Program.
Now in its 25th year, the program combats more than 150 species, including the water soldier plant in the Trent Severn Waterway. The plant — native to Europe and Asia — is known to alter water chemistry.
“Over the past 25 years Ontario has had many successful initiatives that have helped to contain and prevent the spread of invasive species in our province, including Zebra Busters and Operation Bait Bucket, ” said McGarry.
“Through working with our partners, our government is asking people across Ontario to continue to help us protect our ecosystem by keeping your garden free from invasive plants, using only local wood for your campfire and remembering to clean, drain and dry your boat when moving it between water bodies.”
The Invading Species Awareness Program — in partnership with the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters — includes a new online tracking system and mobile app to report any invasive species sightings.
The program received 9,000 invasive species sighting reports last year alone, according to OFAH executive director Angelo Lombardo.
“For the past 25 years, we have strived to keep the topic of invasive species relevant in order to engage Ontarians in prevention efforts and stop the spread of invasive species,” said Lombardo.
“We look forward to continuing to work with Ontario and all other partners to collectively combat invasive species and maintain the diversity of our natural resources.”
In 2016, Ontario prohibited and restricted 19 invasive species to prevent their arrival, control their spread in the province and protect the environment.
New provincial dollars will also support the Ontario Invasive Plant Council and the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Association (FOCA) to help municipalities and cottagers to develop invasive plant management strategies.
“FOCA encourages every cottager to have an action plan to prevent the spread of invasive species to our precious lakes and rivers,” said FOCA executive director Terry Rees.
Sightings of invasive species can be reported using the interactive application at EDDMaps.org/Ontario or by calling the Invading Species Hotline at 1-800-563-7711.