Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Aquatic Hitchhikers Campaign Partnership Announces Bold Changes

May 14, 2013


Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220

Fishing and boating season is just around the corner, and new communications tools and an enhanced partnership will make it easier than ever to learn how to Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!TM. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced it is passing the “red stop sign” baton of this unique aquatic resource campaign to the Minnesota-based nonprofit conservation organization Wildlife Forever.

The Service will maintain ownership of the campaign’s trademark, but under the new arrangement Wildlife Forever will run day-to-day operations of the campaign, leverage its excellent relationship with the larger conservation community, and create a plan for growing the campaign by using a host of different media channels, including television, web, radio and social media.

“I’m proud the Service’s leadership is committed to expanding the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! campaign in a time of increasing threats to our resources,” said Wildlife Forever President and Chief Executive Officer Doug Grann. “The partnership campaign is successful because state, federal and private organizations invest and work together to reach millions of Americans each year.”

“Wildlife Forever brings many value-added tools to the table and will help to make invasive species prevention a key part of modern-day outdoor recreation and conservation,” said Mike Weimer, the Service’s division chief of Fisheries and Aquatic Conservation.

Eleven years ago, the conservation community was just beginning to understand the complex ramifications of aquatic nuisance species. In April 2002, the federal government, led by the Service and under the umbrella of the national Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force, stepped up efforts to address the threat by introducing a national partnership and behavior-change campaign known as Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!

Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers strategically targets specific audiences and empowers individuals to be part of the solution through best management practices. By employing a partnership-focused, grassroots-driven branding strategy and hosting a dedicated website (, Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! is redefining how to do outreach at a national level for complex, 21st century conservation issues. The campaign has been so successful that it was written up as a case study example for branding in the *4th Edition of Social Marketing – Influencing Behaviors for Good*, a social marketing text book.

The campaign unites federal, state, local and Tribal governments and interests with businesses, national conservation and environmental organizations, regional, state and local organizations. Currently, 1,143 organizations participate in the campaign. The campaign also has leveraged approximately $1.25 million in non-federal dollars and has been promoted outside the United States in the U.K. (England, Scotland and Ireland), New Zealand and Kenya all joining the campaign. For more information about Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!TM, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wildlife Forever or the aquatic invasive species issue and what you can do to help, please contact Joe Starinchak from the Fish and Wildlife Service at 703-358-2018 or Pat Conzemius from Wildlife Forever at 763-253-0222.

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