Nonindigenous earthworms are causing large and undesirable changes to forests across the U.S. Upper Midwest. Because earthworms have slow rates of natural spread, and because their distribution remains patchy in many areas, it would be possible to slow the rate of invasion if vectors of introduction can be identified and controlled. Earthworm populations are often found near lakes, and it has been suggested that anglers discarding unwanted bait are a vector for the establishment of new populations. Here, we have surveyed the bait trade and anglers to determine whether bait stores sell known invasive species and whether angler behavior is likely to lead to these species becoming introduced near lakes. All bait stores surveyed sold known invasive species and 44% of anglers who purchase bait dispose of unwanted bait on land or in trash. We conclude that the bait trade and subsequent disposal of worms by anglers constitute a major vector for earthworm introductions. Thus, slowing the spread of invasive earthworms will require efforts to change the species sold at bait stores and/or efforts to change angler behavior.
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