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DNR: Too many boaters not following AIS laws

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says they are still finding too many boats and other water users who are transporting aquatic invasive species.

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So far this season, watercraft inspectors have found more than 1,300 boaters at public water accesses with aquatic plants, invasive animals or water in or on their boats and equipment.

In addition, DNR conservation officers have issued 169 citations and 375 warning tickets to boaters for AIS violations at enforcement check stations and public accesses. Fines range from $100 to $500. 

“Far too many people are still not following the law,” said Greg Salo, DNR central region enforcement manager. “Some of these laws have been on the books for more than 15 years and yet we’re still seeing a 26 percent violation rate at enforcement check stations. That’s unacceptable. Violators should know better by now.”

The DNR made an extra push to enforce the law this past weekend by stepping up patrols with watercraft inspectors. DNR conservation officers were checking boats and equipment to make sure everyone is following Minnesota’s AIS laws.

Minnesota currently has 175 water bodies infested with zebra mussels.

“Every new infestation is extremely serious,” said Ann Pierce, DNR section manager for Ecological and Water Resources. “This means that it’s important for people to take responsibility, follow the laws, and protect the remaining more than 10,000 Minnesota waters. It’s still well worth the effort to protect the uncontaminated water bodies.”

In Minnesota it is illegal to transport watercraft without the drain plug removed: arrive at lake access with drain plug in place, transport aquatic plants, zebra mussels, or other prohibited species, whether dead or alive, launch watercraft with prohibited species attached, transport water from Minnesota lakes or rivers and release live bait into the water.

All DNR-trained watercraft inspectors stationed around the state are authorized to help ensure boats and trailers are clean and free of AIS before entering or leaving a lake, river or other body of water. Whether they work for the DNR, or for a county or other local unit of government, inspectors are there to help make sure boaters are not in violation of AIS laws and protect our lakes and rivers.

The DNR has 23 decontamination units at various bodies of water in Minnesota. The agency concentrates inspectors and decontamination efforts at high-use bodies of water that are currently infested with AIS.