Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Fern infestation irritates hunters, boaters

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WHITE CASTLE - A pesky plant is spreading like wildfire all over Louisiana, frustrating hunters, boaters and fishermen.  It's called Salvinia, and people with the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries say it is just as insidious as its name sounds.

This water weed doubles its size every six to ten days, which is why it has taken over countless waterways since it was introduced into natural habitats in the 1990s.  Rob Bourgeouis with LDWF believes the plant was spread from decorative water gardens because of flooding.

"It's choking out the waterways," Bourgeouis told News 2 in a frustrated tone.

The plant chokes out fish first, by blocking the sunlight that plants underneath the water need to grow.  That way, fish have nothing to eat.  After the plant knocks out fishermen, it targets hunters.

"It also will carpet an area, and places where ducks will land now look like a grass field, so the ducks don't come in to land in that area," Bourgeois said.

LDWF has tried everything to annihilate the water weed-- mechanically removing it, draw downs, spraying it, even relying on weevils to eat the plant-- but nothing seems to be effective at getting rid of salvinia.

To control it LDWF relies on people with boats to wash their boats off after every use with soap and water to prevent carrying plants or their seeds to waterways that have not been populated with salvinia.


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