ACES research team helps Illinois Conservation Police prevent spread of aquatic invasive species

Two men inspect a crayfish in a white dish on a table
Conservation Police Officers learn how to identify an invasive red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii)

A group of 150 Illinois Conservation Police Officers (CPO) gathered in Decatur for a hands-on workshop on aquatic invasive species (AIS) during their annual meeting this spring. Developed by the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant aquatic invasive species team in collaboration with the lab of Carena van Riper in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (NRES), the workshop was a resounding success in educating and equipping officers with the knowledge and tools to combat the spread of AIS and protect the state’s natural resources.

Elizabeth Golebie, a post-doc in van Riper’s lab, spearheaded the workshop in partnership with CPO Brandon Fehrenbacher. Golebie has previous experience working with IISG as a grad student and extensive research experience with AIS. The workshop featured hands-on lessons that taught officers about the potential impacts of AIS and how to identify several species of invasive fish, crayfish, and aquatic plants. Modules were taught by Chris Taylor and Greg Spyreas of the Illinois Natural History Survey, who covered invasive crayfish and invasive aquatic plants, respectively, and Katie O’Reilly of IISG and INHS, who addressed invasive fish species. 

“We provided the officers with an ID guide that featured a few key species that were taught in each of the modules, with identifying characteristics listed for each species,” said Golebie. “The goal was to have them practice using the ID guide at the workshop and then take it with them to reference in the field.” 

Read the full release from Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant.

The Department of NRES is in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

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