The Department of Natural Resources wants to remind consumers and pet traders alike to be aware of prohibited species that could potentially be sold at pet and aquarium stores throughout Michigan.

Michigan has a Prohibited and Restricted Species statute that prevents citizens from possessing numerous plant, crustacean, fish, insect, mammal and mollusk species. The list includes known invasive species the DNR wants to either prevent from entering and establishing populations in Michigan or limit their further spread throughout the state. Introduction or spread of these species poses risks to native plants and animals, could potentially cause harm to human health, and would be costly, if not impossible, to eradicate or control.

DNR employees familiar with prohibited and restricted species have found numerous examples of them being sold in pet and aquarium stores throughout the state. Store owners should be aware of the Prohibited and Restricted Species list to prevent legal ramifications from selling them, and consumers should be aware of the list to help prevent their introduction and spread.

“It’s important that those looking to purchase a pet, or those looking to add plants, fish or other live materials to their aquariums, are educated to prevent the establishment and spread of unwanted species in Michigan,” said Tom Goniea, DNR fisheries biologist. “The more familiar people are with the state’s Prohibited and Restricted Species list, the better we are able to ensure that does not happen.”

Prohibited and restricted species that have been found in Michigan pet and aquarium stores include the Brazilian elodea plant (a water plant that may be sold for aquarium use) and fish from the snakehead family (a highly invasive fish that has established populations in numerous East Coast states).

Any person or business owner who intentionally or accidentally finds themselves in possession of a prohibited or restricted species is recommended to immediately kill/euthanize the specimen in question before disposing of it in a certified landfill.

The Prohibited and Restricted Species list is part of Michigan’s Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act of 1994. The full list can be found at www.michigan.gov/fishing.

Any person in possession of live prohibited/restricted species or who has planted them anywhere in Michigan, including on private as well as public land and water, is subject to a civil fine of up to $10,000 and may be subject to property seizure and felony prosecution and penalty. Any person or company selling prohibited or restricted species is subject to a civil fine of up to $20,000 and may be subject to property seizure and felony prosecution and penalty.

The DNR encourages persons with knowledge or information about the live possession, introduction or sale of prohibited/restricted species in Michigan to contact the Report All Poaching (RAP) hotline at 1-800-292-7800.

Logo courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources

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