Northern Forests Threatened by Global “Worming”

In the March 25 Minneapolis Star Tribune, Lee Frelich, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Forest Ecology notes that the lowly earthworm, often thought of as a friend to the backyard gardener, is actually a dangerous invasive. Earthworms threaten northern forests by eating the duff and litter of the forest floor. This causes the ground to heat and dry up which stresses trees that have evolved in a wetter and cooler microclimate. As the fishing season approaches, anglers need to be informed and reminded that earthworms are invasive and threaten northern ecosystems. Unlike invasive birds and insects, earthworms move slowly. But when fishermen dump leftover worms at campsites or on trails their spread is enormously accelerated. This is one of the reasons Quetico Park has banned the use of live bait. Although fishing with live bait is still legal in the Boundary Waters, the  Minnesota DNR notes that it is against the law to release earthworms to the wild. For the full story read March 25 Minneapolis Star Tribune page A11.

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