First Week in the Field with Goats and Snails!

Most of the week was spent at Fond du Lac where we got Ojibwe history lessons, an understanding of the contemporary environmental issues that affect the tribe, and got our feet wet in the field helping with invasive species removal!

I learned that over 1000 years ago the brothers and sisters of my Lenni-Lenape ancestors traveled westward to escape the prophesied threat of the white race, preserve heir culture, and to find the place where food grew up out of the water, manoomin. The Anishinaabeg people stopped 7 times to settle over their journey. Their 6th stop was here, on Spirit Island, where they first found manoomin. The people who settled here 100s of years ago are now the Ojibwe and I’m honored to learn about their culture, traditional food, and how they continue to care for their beautiful land.
One of the land management practices that the tribe is experimenting with is to use goats as a means to remove invasive plant species like buckthorn, a tough woody plant that outcompetes native plant species. We got to see the goats do what they do best, EAT EVERYTHING, and learn how these practices are a work in progress and require trial and error.
Another invasive is Chinese mystery snails which have a air tight operculum which prevents desiccation for up to 5 days making them a very robust species and tough species to eradicate. However, the tribe’s goal is not to eradicate the species from their waters, instead they want to achieve balance. Collecting them is the best way to reduce their numbers and impact on these lakes. We ended up collecting about 25 lbs of snails in a couple hours in an area that had been picked through 2 times prior! The impacts of these snails are still not well understood… I guess they live up to their name.

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