Aquatic Invasive Species

Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) are some of the largest threats to the health of our Northwoods lakes. Invasive species are plants, animals, or pathogens introduced to an area where they do not naturally occur. They are prolific, spreading rapidly due to a lack of natural predators and competitors. Invasive species can negatively impact fish and wildlife habitat and native species populations, reduce biodiversity, and alter entire ecosystems.

The Discovery Center is committed to helping stop the spread of AIS through partnerships with local and state agencies. Use the links below to learn more about our partnerships and what you can do to help. We appreciate your commitment in keeping our lakes beautiful for future generations!



Wondering how you can help protect your lakes and rivers? Join our Woods and Waters Program team for a free training on Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) and learn what to look for, how to identify them, and what to do when you find them. You can also contact us to book a private training for your lake association, home owner's association, or other event.

Upcoming 2023 AIS Trainings:

May 24, 9-11 AM: Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Identification Training at Boulder Junction, Register Here

June 07, 9-11 AM: Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Identification Training at Pipke Park, Register Here

June 13, 9-11 AM: Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Identification Training at Rest Lake, Register Here

June 27, 2-4 PM: Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Identification Training at Rest Lake, Register Here


Interested in more ways to learn how you can help? Join us in these other Protect Our Waters series programs in 2023:

August 3, 12:30 - 4:30 PM: Managing Your Lake Shoreline Buffer, Register Here

August 15, 9 AM - 3 PM: Early Detection Rapid Response Monitoring, Register Here

August 18, 10 AM - 3 PM: Freshwater Mussel Monitoring, Register Here

August 19, 9 AM - 3 PM: Wisconsin Snapshot Day 2023, Register Here




Please contact us if you suspect an invasive species or want to know where they have been located within our region. We continually map areas to aid in effective, efficient, and proactive control.


We are always willing to identify any suspected AIS you may find. Bring samples in to the Discovery Center or email a photograph with the location where you found it, along with your contact information.


For additional ways to help control the threat, see the Wisconsin DNR's webpage, or the additional resources below.

Click here to see if your lake of interest in Vilas County contains AIS.

Click here if you are an active volunteer with Discovery Center grants on the Manitowish Chain; or Harris, Hiawatha, Birch, Rainbow, Tamarack, the Turtle Chain, Pardee or Circle Lily Lakes in Winchester.

Aquatic Invasive Species You Should Know

Click on the images below to learn more about each species


Eurasian Water Milfoil

Curly Leaf Pondweed

Purple Loosestrife

Rusty Crayfish

Mystery Snails

Spiny Water Flea

Yellow Iris

Rainbow Smelt

Zebra Mussels

Additional Resources

Manitowish Waters Lakes Association

Wisconsin DNR Aquatic Invasive Species

Citizen Lake Monitoring Network: Get Involved!

Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) Invasive Species Area Maps

US Geological Survey Invasive Species Research

Vilas County Land and Water Conservation Department

Invasive Plants Association of Wisconsin



Available for loan.

Lake Plants You Should Know- A Visual Field Guide. University of Wisconsin- Extension.

Aquatic Plants of the Upper Midwest- A Photographic Field Guide To Our Underwater Forests.Written by: Paul Skawinski.

Through the Looking Glass- A Field Guide to Aquatic Plants. Written by: Susan Borman, Robert Korth, and Jo Temte.

Saving Our Lakes and Streams. Written by: James A. Brakken.

Your Help Is Needed

Curly leaf pondweed has been found in the Manitowish Waters Chain. Please keep your eyes open and let us know if you see this aquatic invasive plant along your shorelines or docks. Additionally, please check your boats and props to prevent the spread!

Citizen AIS Lake Monitoring

Join a crew to search for suspicious-looking species (plant or animal). Keep your eyes peeled and report any sightings to us.

Clean Boats Clean Waters

Educate boaters at landings and inspect boats and trailers.

Volunteer today, to protect our waters tomorrow.

Phone: (715) 543-2085

AIS of the Month

September: Mystery Snails

August: Eurasian Water Milfoil

July: Purple Loosestrife

June: Curly Leaf Pondweed