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USDA APHIS Wildlife Services Efforts to Protect and Restore the Great Lakes Region of North America

  • Author(s): Beckerman, Scott F.
  • McConnell, John E.
  • Guikema, Aaron T.
  • et al.
Abstract

In a time when fresh water is increasingly in demand, the Great Lakes region of North America contains approximately 20% of the globe’s fresh water resources. The Great Lakes offer nearly an infinite number of recreational opportunities for residents of the region and helps support one of the largest economies in the world. Understanding this, U.S. President Barack Obama and 16 federal agencies have made restoring the Great Lakes a national priority by establishing the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). Congress appropriated $300 million to $475 million per year between 2010 and 2013 to implement the GLRI. An Action Plan describes how the GLRI is being executed from 2010 through 2014 and describes the most significant ecosystem level challenges for the Great Lakes. These challenges are categorized into 5 major Focus Areas for restoration including: combating invasive species; promoting nearshore health by protecting watersheds from polluted run-off; and habitat and wildlife protection and restoration, among others. To protect and restore the Great Lakes as part of the GLRI, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services program (WS) is combating the spread of terrestrial invasive species, such as mute swans and feral swine; managing double-crested cormorants on sensitive islands; protecting native turtles from meso-predators; and enhancing native trout streams by removing beaver dams impeding stream flow to protect and enhance native fish/wildlife and their habitats. In addition, WS is managing overabundant populations of Canada geese and ring-billed gulls to promote water quality and improve nearshore health. This presentation highlights objectives, measurable ecological targets, and specific actions accomplished by WS during 2011-2013 to protect in-stream and riparian habitat and fish restoration through beaver damage management and efforts to protect aquatic habitat and native wildlife through mute swan management within the Great Lakes ecosystem.

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