Threat of aquatic invasive species re-emerges
With boating season moving into high gear, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds boaters and anglers to be extra vigilant to help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS).
Boaters and anglers must know the AIS laws before they hit the water.
The laws have not changed since last year, according to Ann Pierce, DNR invasive species unit supervisor.
"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," she said.
Statewide plans include:
Inspections -The DNR will have up to 150 authorized inspectors stationed at high-use public waters that are infested with zebra mussels and 23 hot water decontamination units available to clean infested equipment. Local units of government will also have inspectors at various accesses throughout the state.
Enforcement - All DNR conservation officers will focus on enforcing AIS laws this season. They will write citations for AIS law violations. Roadside checks will be conducted.
AIS canine unit - Three zebra-mussel detector dogs will help conservation officers at check stations and water accesses this summer.
In 2012, watercraft inspectors and conservation officers spent about 81,000 hours inspecting more than 120,000 watercraft/trailers, resulting in 998 citations 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, visit www.mndnr.gov/ais.