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Invading Species Watch Program

Invading Species Watch is a free, volunteer based lake monitoring program for aquatic invading species. It is an initiative of the Invading Species Awareness Program, which is a partnership between the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR).

Based on a high demand for current information on the distribution and spread of aquatic invading species to Ontario lakes, the OFAH and the OMNR initiated the Invading Species Watch to meet the following objectives:

  1. Establish a provincial volunteer network to track the spread of zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) and the spiny water flea (Bythotrephes longimanus) in Ontario waters;
  2. Update Ontario distribution maps and an international database that tracks the spread of aquatic invasive species in North America;
  3. Increase local awareness of aquatic invasive species and encourage greater public involvement in preventing the spread to inland lakes;
  4. Provide participants with early identification of the presence of aquatic invasive species, thus providing an opportunity to initiate protection systems to minimize impacts.

The program offers local residents, cottagers, and property owners the unique opportunity to monitor their lakes for the presence of aquatic invasive species such as zebra mussels and spiny water flea at minimal cost.

How does the Invading Species Watch Program Work?

  • Interested volunteers should contact the Watch Coordinator in early spring to be added to the list. The number of monitoring kits is limited so contact as early as possible.
  • Volunteers will receive the monitoring kit and instruction manual through the months of early July to September. Collection of water samples may take up to four hours per lake depending on the size of the lake.
  • Volunteers simply follow the instructions in the information kits provided by the OFAH and take water samples of their lakes using plankton tow nets.
  • Samples are then shipped to OFAH for analysis to detect the presence or absence of larval forms of aquatic invasive species. Volunteers are then notified of the results.
  • Participation in the program is FREE but volunteers are responsible for purchasing a bottle of isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) to preserve the samples and sending the samples back to the OFAH office for analysis.

Protect your lake and participate in the Invading Species Watch program!