Biological Invasions

, Volume 14, Issue 7, pp 1469–1481 | Cite as

An assessment of a bait industry and angler behavior as a vector of invasive species

  • Jay V. KilianEmail author
  • Ronald J. Klauda
  • Sarah Widman
  • Michael Kashiwagi
  • Rebecca Bourquin
  • Sara Weglein
  • John Schuster
Original Paper


The use of live bait by anglers is an important vector of both aquatic and terrestrial invasive species. Bait-bucket introductions of invasive crayfishes, fishes, earthworms, pathogens, and other organisms have reduced biodiversity and altered ecosystem function and structure throughout the United States, including the Mid-Atlantic region. In 2008, we conducted a telephone survey of bait shops and a mail survey of anglers to obtain information on the trade and use of bait in Maryland, a US state with many introduced bait species. Our telephone survey of bait shops confirmed that this industry is a source of non-native and invasive species in Maryland. Our survey documented at least six non-native bait species for sale in the state. With the exception of a few locally collected bait species, bait sold in Maryland originated from sources outside of the state, and in some cases, outside the Mid-Atlantic region. Results of our angler survey indicated that 64% of Maryland freshwater anglers, both resident and non-resident, used live bait and that the release of unused live bait was quite common and occurred statewide. The release of unused bait by anglers varied with bait type. Anglers more readily released aquatic than terrestrial baits. For example, 65 and 69% of Maryland anglers using fishes and crayfishes released their unused bait; whereas only 18 and 10% of anglers released their unused earthworms and grubs-mealworms-maggots, respectively. Our surveys indicated that any non-native, potentially invasive species imported into the state via the bait industry is likely to be released by anglers into Maryland’s aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Many of these species have the potential to become established in the state. These results illustrate the need for greater oversight of the bait industry, development of consistent regulations on bait use, and a region-wide education campaign aimed at changing anglers’ behavior regarding bait use and its disposal. We recommend specific management actions that, if implemented, would greatly reduce further bait-bucket introductions and provide protection against invasive bait species in Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic region.


Invasive species Bait Industry Mid-Atlantic Angler behavior Vector Non-native 



We thank Jonathan McKnight, Tammy O’Connell, Marek Topolski, Lisetta Silvestri, and Megan Mueller for assistance with data collection and the MDNR Invasive Species Matrix Team for providing assistance and guidance with survey design and for support of this study. We thank Arden Fields and Len Singel for assistance with the MDNR Fisheries angler database. We also thank Dr. Paul Hendrix of the University of Georgia for providing taxonomic verifications of earthworm species and Zachary Loughman of West Liberty University for crayfish identification. We thank Scott Stranko, Kerrie Kyde, Jonathan McKnight, Robert DiStefano, and two anonymous reviewers for providing comments and suggestions that all led to improvements in the manuscript. This study was funded in part by State Wildlife Grant funds provided to the state wildlife agencies by US Congress, and administered through the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Natural Heritage Program.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jay V. Kilian
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ronald J. Klauda
    • 1
  • Sarah Widman
    • 2
  • Michael Kashiwagi
    • 1
  • Rebecca Bourquin
    • 1
  • Sara Weglein
    • 1
  • John Schuster
    • 1
  1. 1.Maryland Department of Natural ResourcesResource Assessment ServiceAnnapolisUSA
  2. 2.Maryland Department of Natural ResourcesFisheries ServiceAnnapolisUSA

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