Invasive Species

Invasive Species are of growing concern for Saskatchewan and the prairie provinces. The effects of these plants and animals can be detrimental to crops, lakes, watersheds, and the ecosystems within our province. Unfortunately, most of these species fit into a broad niche, meaning they will thrive in most areas they inhabit, making them even harder to extinguish. The Saskatchewan Invasive Species Council has made up some helpful fact sheets to help identify the species, the risks they pose, and effective methods of removal. Below are some fact sheets for the more problematic invasive species.

--- Leafy Spurge --- Yellow Toadflax --- Scentless Chamomile --- Oxeye Daisy --- Himalayan Balsam --- Common Burdock --- Wild Parsnip --- Purple Loosestrife Fact Sheet

For more invasive plant species click here.

Aquatic Invasive Species

Zebra and quagga mussels are a threat to our waterways and therefore to our economy, recreation industry, agriculture and to our environment. To monitor and raise awareness about these aquatic invasive species, the NSRBC, as well as other watershed groups in the province, are working with the Ministry of Environment. In the North Saskatchewan River Basin, we have been training volunteers at Jackfish and Murray Lake and in the Lakeland District (which includes Emma, Christopher, Anglin, and McPhee Lake) who are closely monitoring the lakes for zebra and quagga mussels.

So what is the big deal about invasive mussels? They are one of our biggest threats when it comes to our water. They harm fisheries, ruin beaches, attach to boats, water intake pipes, and other structures that could cost Saskatchewan millions of dollars a year. Watch the video below to learn more! 

If you are interested in monitoring a lake in your area for aquatic invasives and would like to receive more information, please contact us: info@nsrbc.ca

Resources and Links:

Zebra and Quagga Mussels threaten the SK River Basin - October 2014

Prairie Waters Working Group

Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment

Saskatchewan Invasive Species Council

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

iMapInvasives

One way to prevent the spread of invasive species is to report sightings. iMapInvasives is an on-line, GIS-based data management system used to assist citizen scientists and natural resource professionals working to protect our natural resources from the threat of invasive species (imapinvasives.org). Once an account is created, the user can submit any sightings, and also view all of the other reported sightings within the province. The app prompts the user to take a photo of the species and in doing so will automatically tag your location to that photo. This data management system can be a useful tool to outline and monitor species dispersal, quantity, spread, and areas of high risk. This program/app is a great asset for RM’s, municipalities, industry, locals, and anyone involved with combatting the spread of infestation of an invasive species. For more information on iMapInvasives click here

Leafy Spurge Information & Beetle Release

There is a growing concern for the prairie region regarding the threat of invasive species. One species of major concern is leafy spurge. This highly invasive noxious weed is extremely hard to eradicate once established in an area. It chokes out native species of vegetation and most livestock will not graze it. 

There are two control methods that currently seem to work the best for combating a spurge infected area. The first is targeted grazing. Sheep and goats will graze leafy spurge where most other livestock will not. There are incentives through the Farm Stewardship Program that will help cover the costs, once approved. For more info Click Here. Multiple BMP's are listed under the pre-approval section.

The other control method is through the use of leafy spurge beetles. The beetles will eat only leafy spurge and effectively kill the plants they feed on. This method is a long term management solution as it can take a few years for the beetles to fully establish. Releasing leafy spurge beetles will not completely eradicate leafy spurge from an infested area, however, it is a good management strategy to use alongside other control methods.

We just released beetles at Sweetgrass First Nation in some leafy spurge-infected pasture (July 13th). We hope to see an established beetle population with reduced numbers of spurge plants within the next few years.

July 2020: Beetle Collection & Release 

This summer, NSRBC staff engaged with producers and First Nations communities to help fight the spread of leafy spurge. The combat method chosen to battle this invasive weed species was the leafy spurge beetles. These beetles originate from Europe, like leafy spurge. Leafy spurge beetles are arguably the most effective and cost-friendly method at combatting leafy spurge currently. These beetles only eat leafy spurge, so they are not a risk of becoming invasive themselves.

Our staff collected beetles at two locations this year. One site near the Besant campgrounds by Moose Jaw and the other on Sweetgrass pastures by North Battleford. Numerous clients were able to obtain beetles. Beardy’s and Okemasis have a serious leafy spurge problem throughout most of their community and pastures, negatively impacting the quality of the landscape. The hope is to get a successful introduction of these beetles. That way they can sweep for the established beetles in future years and move them to other patches of leafy spurge nearby.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collecting these beetles is done by using large nets to “sweep” for them through patches of spurge where they have been established in years prior. The downside of sweeping through spurge is the risk of becoming carriers of the invasive weeds, with seeds getting stuck on shoes, equipment or vehicles. Our vehicles were kept well clear of the spurge and any equipment used is cleaned after collection. We eliminated this risk by using disposable canvas slip-on footwear or “booties”. They not only repel seeds and debris, they are also easily stored and safely disposed of once out of the patches of spurge.

July 2018: Beetle Release

On July 13th we released beetles that around the Sweetgrass First Nations. These beetles were brought in order to try and reduce the spread of leafy spurge an invasive plant. These beetles were put at the edges of the leafy spurge infestations so that they would work their way in and impede the spreading of the spurge. They will lay their eggs and their larvae will eat the roots of the leafy spurge effectively killing it. If these beetles get established they will provide an effective and environmentally friendly way of controlling the spurge.