Fighting invasive species: Ontario work with partners to boost awareness and protect the environment

Zebra mussels

Zebra mussels are clever hitchhikers, as seen here on the underside of a boat, which Ontario and its partners have been trying to battle through the Zebra Busters program, started in the early nineties, and today’s “clean, drain and dry” public awareness campaign. Credit: Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters

Ontario continues to combat invasive plants and animals in order to protect the environment and allow people across the province to continue to enjoy rivers, lakes, parks and other green spaces.

Kathryn McGarry, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry and Jeff Leal, MPP for Peterborough, were in Peterborough August 16, 2017, to announce a number of new investments in programs to combat invasive species.

New investments this year include:

  • Support for the Invasive Species Centre’s work to further research into new biological control agents for phragmites and dog-strangling vine
  • Additional support for the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) Invading Species Awareness Program – which is marking its 25th anniversary – to strengthen the reporting invading species hotline, online tracking system and mobile application, management and eradication of water soldier in the Trent-Severn Waterway as well as public outreach initiatives
  • New funding for the Ontario Invasive Plant Council so they can engage municipalities in the development of municipal invasive plant management strategies
  • Support for the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations and their work with lake front property owners to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, including A Shoreline Owner’s Guide to Invasive Species
Purple loosestrife

Purple loosestrife, seen here along an Ontario road, is a wetland plant native to Europe and Asia that has spread across the province since its introduction in the early 19thcentury and is now being bio-controlled using beetles, one of the methods used in Project Purple. Credit: Dave Britton

“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. 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 waterbodies,” said McGarry.

Ontario will continue to support the successful implementation of the Invasive Species Act and regulation through public education and working with neighbouring jurisdictions.

“The OFAH is proud to be celebrating 25 years of partnership delivering the Invading Species Awareness Program with Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. 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. 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,” said Angelo Lombardo, Executive Director, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters.

Water soldier infestation

Water soldier, a newly regulated invasive species in Ontario that aggressively outcompetes native vegetation and impedes boating, swimming and angling, has been found in dense patches on the Trent Severn waterway, as shown in a photo of a residential boat dock in 2015. Credit: Greg Buchanan

Creating awareness of invasive species and protecting our environment is part of our plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.

“The Invasive Species Centre is proud to celebrate with our partners, 25 years of fighting invasive species in Ontario, and to work together with the provincial government, and many other important organizations, to combat invasive species in this province. Through our partnerships, we provide research on evidence-based prevention, detection and response activities and make our efforts to fight invasive species even more effective,” said Tracey Cooke, Executive Director, Invasive Species Centre.

Iola Price, President, Ontario Invasive Plant Council, said:

“Since its inception in 2007, the Ontario Invasive Plant Council is proud to have worked closely with Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and many other partners, including the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters Invading Species Awareness Program and the Invasive Species Centre, to empower Ontarians to take action against the spread of invasive plants. We will continue to collaborate with new and existing partners to promote a coordinated response to this serious threat to our ecosystems and economy.”

Cottagers are asked to do their part.

“The Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations (FOCA) encourages every cottager to have an action plan to prevent the spread of invasive species to our precious lakes and rivers. FOCA and our members have been longstanding participants in invasive species monitoring, prevention and awareness, in partnership with MNRF and OFAH,” said Terry Rees, Executive Director, Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations.

Water soldier treatment

In 2016, this same area on Seymour Lake shows how herbicide treatment was able to successfully control the water soldier, a joint effort between Ontario and local partners. Credit: Robert McGowan

Jeff Leal, MPP Peterborough said: “Our government is proud to be supporting the efforts of organizations like the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters to combat invasive species in our province. By working together, we are helping protect the ecological integrity of our natural heritage so that it can be enjoyed by Ontarians both now and in the future.”


  • For 2016-17, Ontario is investing $1.6 million in invasive species partnerships.
  • Ontario provides annual support to the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters to deliver the Invading Species Awareness Program to track invasive species sightings and provide public education and outreach.
  • Invasive species often out-compete native species for food and take over their habitats, threatening both the environment and economy.
  • In 2016, Ontario prohibited and restricted 19 invasive species to prevent their arrival, control their spread in the province and protect the environment.
  • Sightings of invasive species can be reported using the interactive application at or by calling the Invading Species Hotline at 1-800-563-7711.


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