Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters

Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters

June 18, 2014 11:45 ET

"Hit Squad" Members Fighting Invasive Species in Orillia, Sibbald Point and Utopia

PETERBOROUGH, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - June 18, 2014) - Invasive species pose a growing threat to Ontario's biodiversity and cause millions of dollars in damage annually. There are more invasive species in Ontario than anywhere else in Canada, so it is a good thing the Invading Species Awareness Program (ISAP) Hit Squad is working across the province again this summer to spread awareness about the impacts invasive species are having on our environment, economy, and society. Two Hit Squad members will be located in Orillia this summer, and one will be located at Sibbald Point Provincial Park and another in Utopia.

The four Invasive Species Community Outreach Liaisons will work with the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) and their partner organizations throughout the summer. Jelena Petrovic will be working with Kids for Turtles in Orillia. Laura Kielek-Caster will be working with Ontario Streams out of Orillia. Maria Varaeva will be working with Sibbald Point Provincial Park. Jessica Poole will be working with Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority in Utopia, Ont.

"Educating the public is the first step to preventing the spread of invasive species in Ontario," Petrovic says. "I am excited to have the opportunity this summer to educate the public in the Orillia area."

"Prevention is the key to stopping the spread or introduction of invasive species," Kielek-Caster says. "Public awareness of preventive actions to stop the spread of invasive species, such as decontaminating a boat between water bodies, is the easiest and most effective way to prevent new invasive species introductions."

"Invasive species pose a serious threat to our local biodiversity," Varaeva says. "I encourage everyone to report sightings of invasive species by calling the Invading Species Hotline or by visiting EDDMapS Ontario on their computer or smart phone. Together as a community we can prevent the further spread of invasive species."

"Invasive species are the second leading cause of biodiversity loss in Ontario," Poole says. "It is important for the public to be aware of their impacts and how they can prevent the introduction or spread of invasive species."

The OFAH partners with the Ministry of Natural Resources to deliver the Invading Species Awareness Program. This program uses public education to prevent the introduction of new invasive species, and to stop the spread of those already here.

Over the course of the summer, the Invasive Species Hit Squad, comprised of about 25 summer students, will monitor more than 200 local lakes, waterways and forests, looking for zebra mussels, spiny water flea, round goby, giant hogweed, garlic mustard, and other invaders. They will also contribute to a variety of efforts to control the spread of these invaders. Funding is being provided by the federal government's Canada Summer Jobs program.

To report a sighting of an invasive species, or request information materials, call the Invading Species Hotline at 1-800-563-7711, visit www.invadingspecies.com or EDDMapS.org/Ontario. You can follow the Hit Squad progress on Twitter @invspecies or @ofah.

The public is invited to contact:

Jelena Petrovic at outreach@kidsforturtles.com

Laura Kielek-Caster at l_kielekcaster@ofah.org

Maria Varaeva at maria_varaeva@ofah.org

Jessica Poole at jpoole@mvca.on.ca

To arrange a media interview, please contact the OFAH Manager of Communications. A high-resolution photo of each student is available upon request.

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