Minnesota Invasive Species

Minnesota Invasive Species Threat re-emerges with Boating Season Underway

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Minnesota Invasive SpeciesAs Minnesotans prepare for Memorial Day weekend and the start of the boating season for most people. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds boaters and anglers of the threat Minnesota invasive species have on the health of all Minnesota lakes and streams.

Lakes and rivers are one of the most precious resources in Minnesota. Every person needs to take responsibility to help prevent Minnesota invasive species from spreading through out the state. All boaters and anglers should know the invasive species laws. Boaters and anglers must know the AIS laws before they hit the water. As Ann Pierce, DNR invasive species unit coordinator explains, “Before leaving a water access every boater must: clean off aquatic plants and animals, pull the drain plug and leave it out when transporting. They need to drain all water from bait buckets, livewells and boats and dispose of unwanted live bait in the trash. These simple steps protect our waters and may keep you from getting a citation.”

DNR’s stepped up efforts

In an effort to curb the spread of Minnesota invasive species people can expect watercraft inspectors and conservation officers at many public access points through out the state this summer. The plan includes having up to 150 authorized inspectors at most of the high-use public waters that have already been known to be infested with zebra mussels. After inspection they will have the ability to clean the infested equipment. There will be an extra effort to enforce all invasive species laws and write citation for violations. Along with inspectors the DNR will also have three canine units used to sniff out zebra mussels.

In 2012 watercraft inspectors spent around 81,000 hours inspecting over 120,00 watercraft/trailers. The inspections resulted in 998 citation and 1,550 written warnings.

Boaters and others who fail to follow AIS laws can expect to receive citations and pay fines. The current fines are:

Transporting aquatic plants – $100 civil penalty or misdemeanor.
Transporting water in boats or other water-related equipment – $100 civil penalty or misdemeanor.
Transporting zebra mussels and other prohibited species of animals – $500 civil penalty or misdemeanor.

For more information about AIS laws, a list of designated infested waters in Minnesota and contact information for AIS specialists throughout the state is available at www.mndnr.gov/ais.

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