The 2021 contest was sponsored by the Washington Invasive Species Council and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The “Don’t Let It Loose” campaign teaches people the dangers of releasing pets and plants into the wild, as well as responsible alternative actions. The 2021 art contest had a special focus on aquariums due to the detection of invasive mussels in pet store aquarium moss balls.

Entries needed to depict invasive species that might be released into Washington’s waters, parks, and wildlands, along with messaging such as, but not limited to:

  • Releasing invasive species can harm Washington’s native plants and animals
  • Description(s) of one or more species that could be released into waters, parks, or wildlands
  • Explanations or illustrations showing other ways to rehome unwanted pets or plants, or safely dispose of aquarium species and accessories.

All types of media were welcomed and encouraged – drawings, paintings, animations, comic strips, videos, public service announcements, songs, etc.

For examples and ideas visit:

Winning and Prizes

Winners were chosen in four age divisions: 5-9; 10-14; 15-18; and 19+. Winners from each division received awards (ranging from stickers to Amazon gift cards!) and had their artwork displayed on the Washington Invasive Species Council and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Web site(s).

Contest Background

What is “Don’t Let It Loose”?

This contest was sponsored by the Washington Invasive Species Council and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of the “Don’t Let It Loose” campaign. The goal of this campaign is to increase public awareness of the dangers of releasing into the wild pets and plants that later become invasive species. This campaign encourages people to take steps to combat Washington’s invasive species and their impacts on our natural resources. 

What are invasive species?

Invasive species include non-native organisms that cause economic or environmental harm and can spread to new areas of the state. (Domestic livestock, intentionally planted crops, or non-harmful exotic organisms are not considered invasive species). Learn more about Washington invasive species at

What is the Washington Invasive Species Council?

The Washington Invasive Species Council was established by the State Legislature in 2006 to coordinate invasive species prevention efforts around the state to sustain Washington’s human, plant, and animal communities and our thriving economy.

What should aquarium owners know?

In March 2021, several states reported the presence of both live and dead zebra mussels at pet store retailers nationwide. Retailers quickly acted to pull the product from shelves and place them in quarantine. The wholesale distributors out of California and Florida were notified, and shipments into the country were ceased. For more details, and instructions for destroying infested moss balls read the March 4, 2021 news release, and watch the YouTube instructional video.

How can I stay involved?

Get the app and get involved! With a guardian’s permission you can download the WA Invasives app and identify and report invasive species in your community. It’s FREE!