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Hunters, outdoors enthusiasts can help Minnesota fight invasive species

Contacts: Allison Sandve, University of Minnesota Extension media relations, 612-626-4077 or 651-492-0811, ; Angela Gupta, Extension educator, 507-280-2869,

ST. PAUL, Minn. (10/21/2016) — With several hunting seasons underway or about to start, the University of Minnesota Extension asks hunters and hikers to help assess the prevalence of a particularly nasty invasive plant in the state.

“With an easy-to-use downloadable app, hunters and other outdoors enthusiasts can help us determine how far Japanese barberry has spread,” said Angela Gupta, Extension educator in natural resources and utilization. “The more we can do with early detection, the better equipped we are to stop its spread.”
Japanese barberry leaves
Japanese barberry in autumn

Invasive Japanese barberry is a wild version of the bush popular in home and commercial landscapes. The invasive shrub takes hold quickly in wooded areas after birds ate the ornamental shrub’s berries and spread its seeds in their droppings. Gupta notes numerous concerns about its spread, including its plentiful sharp thorns that hinder movement of wildlife, humans and livestock. Japanese barberry also grows low, providing a favorable breeding spot for Lyme disease-carrying ticks, while shading out and killing native plant species.

Gupta and colleagues prepared this 4-minute video (at to help understand the threat this invasive shrub poses. They encourage hunters and others to photograph suspected Japanese barberry and share with researchers and land managers via the Great Lakes Early Detection Network app at

Minnesota is now in the second of a three-year plan to phase out 25 varieties of Japanese barberry. After Dec. 31, 2017, its sale and cultivation will be illegal. Gardeners are encouraged to replace Japanese barberry. More information is available here (or visit

The plant has appeared mainly in southeastern Minnesota along the Mississippi, but also has taken hold in parts of the Arrowhead region as well as locations west of the Twin Cities.

“Japanese barberry poses a threat to wildlife habitat, and with it, the ability of hunters and others to enjoy Minnesota’s great outdoors,” Gupta said. “That’s why their help is needed to ensure we’re doing everything we can in the fight against this invasive plant.”

For more news from U of M Extension, visit or contact Extension Communications at University of Minnesota Extension is an equal opportunity educator and employer.

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