Maryland's Invasive and Exotic Species

What YOU Can do to Help Stop the Spread of Invasive Species!

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  • Click here to visit our list of invasive plant species and, whenever possible, avoid planting these species if your home is near a park or other natural reserve area.

  • Request a copy of "Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas" to help you identify and control invasive plants.

Aquarium/Pet Owners

  • NEVER release fish or other animals into the wild, including the pond in your neighborhood or the waters of the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays or tributaries and creeks. Release of fish and animals is illegal in Maryland because introduced species can wreak havoc once they are established and cost millions, even billions, in public funds to control.

  • Like to take your dog for a swim? Make sure to remove plants or animals or any debris that has collected on the dog’s coat before taking the dog home. At home, wash your dog with clean water and brush its coat.

Anglers and Boaters:

Stop Invasive Hitchhikers

  • Remove mud, dirt, sand and all visible plants, fish, and animals from any equipment before traveling to use it in another body of water.

  • Eliminate water from all equipment at the site before transporting it home. Draining water at home could introduce an invasive hitchhiker to a local stream through the storm drain system along your street.

  • Make sure all equipment is dry before transporting it to another body of water. Many aquatic invasive species, some even microscopic, can live a long time in moisture. A few items to consider are waders, boats and trailers, motors, live wells, and buckets.

  • NEVER release live bait onto the shoreline or the water where you are fishing. Dispose of your bait at home in the garbage (make sure it is dead) or give it to another angler.

  • NEVER release live fish from one body of water into another. This could not only result in an unwanted population of the released fish, but also could distribute fish disease from one body of water to another.

Citizen Scientists

  • Report and map out invasive plant sightings with


  • Use bulb-shaped or strap anchors on decoys because they won’t collect submersed or floating plants as easily.

  • Clean and dry boats before moving to your hunting location, especially if they are moored in waters known to contain invasive plants or mussels.

  • Inspect and remove mud, aquatic plants and animals from decoys, hunting dogs, and any equipment that was in contact with the water.

  • Eliminate water from decoys, boats, motors and other equipment at the site rather than at home.

SCUBA Divers and Snorkelers:

  • Check and thoroughly clean all gear that could hide any plants or animals (include regulators, BCDs, wetsuits, masks, snorkels and any other dive gear).

  • After cleaning, rinse your suit, equipment and inside of BCD with hot (<40C or 104F) or salt (1/2 cup salt/gallon of water) water. If you use the salt solution, be sure to thoroughly rise your equipment in freshwater to remove damaging salt.

  • Allow all gear to dry before diving in different waters. Aquatic invasive species can survive for sometime in wet scuba gear.


  • While traveling, be sure to clean anything that came into contact with water in streams, lakes or ponds or beaches before using those things in another body of water.

  • Remove all mud, sand, plants or small water creature before leaving your vacation site. Do not bring samples of living aquatic animals or plant parts home.

  • Clean all clothing that has been in contact with seeds or other plant parts and avoid bringing home samples of plants from your vacation site.


Jonathan McKnight
Associate Director, Habitat Conservation
Wildlife & Heritage Service
Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources
580 Taylor Ave., E-1
Annapolis, MD 21401
(410) 260-8539
Toll-free in Maryland:
1-877-620-8DNR, Ext. 8539


Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service