Examples of Some Aquatic Nuisance Species in Vermont Waters
Alewife: Invasive baitfish species first found in Lake St. Catherine in 1997 and Lake Champlain in 2004. May displace smelt and other native forage fish through competition for food and space resources. Trout and salmon that feed extensively on alewives may also suffer reproductive failure. Alewives may not be used as bait in Vermont except for on Lake Champlain, and only as dead bait. Please see the complete Vermont baitfish regulations in General Requirements & Prohibitions for complete details.
Didymo: An invasive freshwater microscopic algae documented in several rivers in the Lake Champlain basin, Connecticut River watershed and the Batten Kill. Forms extensive ‘blooms’ on the bottoms of rocky river beds. Smothers aquatic insect habitats, native algae, and other organisms. Spread by felt-soled waders and other clothing and equipment that has not been properly cleaned and disinfected before moving between waters.
Eurasian Watermilfoil: Prolific invasive aquatic plant found in Lake Champlain and many inland lakes in Vermont. May interfere with boating and swimming, and can displace native aquatic plant species. Easily spread when plant fragments are caught and moved on boat trailers, propellers, anchors, and other equipment.
Mute Swan: Very large white bird with orange bill, observed annually in Vermont since 1993. Highly aggressive during the nesting season and may drive away or kill native waterfowl. May also attack humans and negatively impact aquatic habitats.
Sea Lamprey: Parasitic aquatic nuisance fish found in Lake Champlain and a number of its tributaries. Preys on salmon, trout and other fish, causing substantial economic impact to the lake fisheries. Anadromous sea lampreys in the Connecticut River watershed are not a nuisance species.
Spiny Water Flea: Tiny invasive crustacean now in the Champlain Canal that may pose a serious threat to Lake Champlain. Clogs fishing rod guides, fouls fishing line, alters native plankton populations and may harm fisheries. Spread by “hitchhiking” on fishing gear that isn’t cleaned, or in bilge water, bait buckets, or livewells that aren’t drained before moving to a different waterbody.
Variable-leaved Watermilfoil: Invasive aquatic plant recently discovered in Halls Lake, Newbury, VT as well as South Bay and Missisquoi Bay, Lake Champlain. Easily spread by fragments with impacts similar to the closely related Eurasian watermilfoil, but may be even more aggressive and difficult to control.
Water Chestnut: Prolific invasive annual plant found in southern Lake Champlain and a few inland lakes. Interferes with boating, hunting and fishing, and displaces native aquatic plant species. Spreads by seeds or parts of plants caught on boats and equipment.
Zebra Mussel: Tiny D-shaped invasive mollusks, well established in Lake Champlain and Lake Bomoseen. Clogs water intake pipes, damages boat engines, obscures historic shipwrecks, and may alter native plankton populations. Adult zebra mussels can attach to and be moved on boat hulls, engines and other equipment. Microscopic larva can get trapped and moved in water of boat engines, bilges, bait buckets, and live wells.
Transporting any aquatic plant or aquatic plant part, zebra mussel or quagga mussel on the outside of a vehicle, boat, personal watercraft, trailer or other equipment is illegal. Violators are subject to a penalty of up to $1000. The use of felt-soled boots or waders in Vermont waters is prohibited. Violators are subject to a penalty of up to $1000. Visit www.vtfishandwildlife.com/felt.cfm for more information.
Do your part to stop the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species
Anglers’, Hunters’ and Trappers’ Checklist
Before leaving a lake or stream:
Report sightings of suspected aquatic nuisance species to Fish & Wildlife, 802-828-1000, or the Department of Environmental Conservation, 802-828-1535.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.