There are over 11,000 lakes in the state of Minnesota and the majority of them are free of aquatic invaders. Ann Pierce, DNR Invasive Species unit supervisor, wants to keep it that way. As anglers gear up for the Minnesota fishing opener on May 11, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is ramping up their efforts to educate the public on the fight against zebra mussels, spiny water fleas and other aquatic invasive species (AIS).
The program that Ann Pierce heads up relies heavily on training and education of anglers and boaters. It was found that boaters will take steps to prevent the spread of invasive species if they understand what to do. The DNR urges all boaters to follow the law to ensure they are not moving invasive species to other lakes. As Jay Rendall, DNR invasive species coordinator says ” Our rivers and lakes are to important to us to take for granted.” It needs to become a personal responsibility of every boater and angler to help prevent the spread of aquatic invaders.
The DNR has found success with its “Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers” campaign as most Minnesotans understand the steps they need to take before and after visiting state waters to prevent the spread of aquatic invaders from lake to lake. But as we get set for another Minnesota fishing opener a small refresher course on aquatic invader laws is always good.
The Minnesota state law requires boaters to:
Clean: Remove visible aquatic plants, zebra mussels, and prohibited invasive species off watercraft, trailers, and equipment before leaving the water access or lake shore property.
Drain: Remove the drain plug from boat, livewell, bilge, motor, ballast tank, and other water-related equipment. Keep the drain plug out and water-draining devices open while transporting watercraft. Drain portable bait containers before leaving water access.
Dispose: Place unwanted bait, including minnows, leeches, worms and fish parts in the trash. It is illegal to release live bait into the water or to release worms on the ground.
The DNR also recommends that boaters rinse boats, trailers and recreational equipment with hot water and let dray for five days or more after use as some aquatic invaders like zebra mussels can be microscopic.
The laws and recommendations that the DNR has put in to place is to help prevent the spread of these invasive aquatic species so that all citizens can enjoy Minnesota great lakes and rivers. But the DNR can not win this fight alone and needs the help of all boaters and anglers to take personal responsibility to help prevent the spread of aquatic invaders.
For more information about AIS click here