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DNR asks: 'Are you doing your part to stop spread of AIS on lakes?'

A watercraft inspector with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) inspects a boat exiting a lake and finds aquatic invasive species (AIS) attached. DNR officials say it's a scenario they experience far too often in their efforts to curb the spread of AIS.

"DNR and its partner organizations are working hard this summer to prevent boaters and anglers from transporting invasive species, but we're continuing to see new infestations and are still finding boats and trailers carrying AIS," said Col. Ken Soring, DNR Enforcement director.

The latest incident occurred Aug. 2 as a boat usually operated on Lake Minnetonka was exiting Lake Bemidji. Lake Minnetonka is among approximately 300 bodies of water in 53 Minnesota counties designated as infested with AIS. Lake Bemidji is not. The watercraft inspector found Eurasian watermilfoil and zebra mussels attached to the boat trailer. The DNR conservation officer cited the boat operator who now faces a $500 fine.

Nearly 150 watercraft inspectors are stationed around the state this summer to help stop the spread of AIS. "Watercraft inspectors and conservation officers are doing their job in getting voluntary compliance with AIS laws, but the real success is going to be won when each and every boater takes personal responsibility," Soring said.

A recent road check at St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park in Washington County found 21 percent of the 62 vehicles with watercraft or water-related equipment checked were violating state AIS laws. A road check near South Long Lake in Crow Wing County found seven of 22 vehicles with watercraft or water-related equipment inspected resulted in an AIS violation rate of 31 percent.

According to the DNR, once zebra mussels are established in a body of water, they can multiply and impact both the ecology and the recreational experience of people using a lake or river. They are often transported from lake to lake by boaters. The mussels are only about the size of a finger nail, and their larvae microscopic, making them tough to find. They have been discovered in various lakes across the state.

Soring said boaters and anglers need to continue to take extra precautions when using Minnesota waters to avoid spreading AIS to new waters. Boaters are required by law to:

Clean boat by removing plants, zebra mussels and other prohibited invasive species from watercraft, trailer, anchor and all water-related equipment before leaving any water access or shoreland.

Drain water-related equipment (boat, ballast tanks, portable bait container and motor) and drain bilge, livewell and baitwell by removing drain plugs before leaving water access. Keep drain plugs out and all water-draining devices open while transporting watercraft.

Dispose of unwanted bait, including minnows, leeches and worms, in the trash. Plan ahead to save bait by transferring it to containers prefilled with bottled or purified tap water.

More information is available at www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/index_aquatic.html.

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