Louisiana Man Cited For Putting Illegal Invasive Snails in Pond
As an avid outdoorsman, I have become well aware of the extreme detrimental effects that invasive species can put on the woods and waters of the Bayou State.
The first one of these invasive species that comes to mind is the Imported Fire Ant. According to the USDA,
Two species of Imported Fire Ants (IFA) were introduced into the United States from South America at the port of Mobile, Alabama. The black imported fire ant, Solenopsis richteri Forel, arrived around 1918 and the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren, in the late 1930's. Both species probably came to the port in soil used as ballast in cargo ships.
The effects of these little suckers, which can be lethal, are known all over the South.
Next on the list of "uninvited guests" to Louisiana would be Giant Salvinia. TPWD says that this floating plant is native to southern Brazil and in 1998 first appeared in our area in Toledo Bend. Those who live on Caddo Lake, Lake Bistineau, Cross Lake, or most all our area lakes, can testify to the ruins this little plant can leave behind. Most feel it came to America as a type of ornament for aquariums.
Of course, hunters and farmers across the entire North American continent can testify about the disaster brought on by feral hogs. Most people don't realize that most of these were actually brought to this continent by the early Spanish explorers who left them here as a food source for future expeditions. Of course, we are still dealing with the ill-effects of that decision centuries later. Even the LDWF says this of these four legged wrecking balls:
- Heavily impact agriculture, uprooting planted seeds, destroying mature crops and uprooting hayfields making hay cutting difficult to impossible. According to the Louisiana State University AgCenter, feral hogs cause $76 million in agricultural damage in Louisiana annually.
- In addition, feral hogs carry several diseases, some which can infect humans.
The latest addition to the list of unwanted additions to the Bayou State, in the form of invasive species, is the dreaded Apple Snail. While some might not understand how a snail can become the impetus of devastation, those who have rice or crawfish farms can draw them a very vivid picture.
Even though, these fast reproducing suckers aren't indigenous to Louisiana, because some consider them a dining delicacy, (though possibly lethal unless prepared properly) they are here.
And now we get word that Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents have cited an Opelousas man for alleged illegal possession and release of an exotic species in St. Landry Parish on Oct 6.
Agents cited Peter Son Nguyen, 73, for the illegal release of game, fowl, or fish, and possessing an exotic species.
A concerned Opelousas homeowner contacted LDWF agents about a man that she believed released apple snails into a neighborhood community pond. Agents conducted an extensive investigation into the complaint and revealed multiple large bundles of apple snail eggs in the Townsouth Neighborhood community pond.
Agents questioned Nguyen’s involvement and he admitted to possessing the snails and releasing them into the pond.
Illegal possession of apple snails brings up to a $50 fine. Illegal release of apple snails carries a $400 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail.
The fine sounds like it should be sufficient to convince Mr. Nguyen to avoid a repeat of his actions, but what about the long-term effects of his actions and others just like him?
Louisiana waters have recently been threatened with the "Lowland Cichlid" which is a fish related to Rio Grande Cichlid, which has been most introduced into waters all over Texas, Louisiana and Florida by people who released them into the wild after tiring of them in their personal aquariums.
At some point we're going to have to consider the repercussions of our actions and the impact those actions will have on the future. I hope Mr. Nguyen is the first on that list.