Stepped-up invasive species enforcement results in citations and warnings

Monday, July 20th, 2009 at 5:22 am

(From Minnesota Department of Natural Resources)

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conservation officers recently issued about a dozen citations and several warnings in the Mille Lacs area. Most citations were for transporting aquatic macrophytes and failing to drain water.

The CO’s also distributed educational materials in a stepped-up effort to reduce the spread of invasive species that threaten native fish and wildlife, and water recreation.

Under Minnesota law, it is illegal to transport invasive aquatic plants and animals, as well as water from waterbodies infested with zebra mussels and spiny waterfleas. Violators could face fines up to $500.

“We hope these citations and warnings will raise awareness that this state looks at invasive species very seriously,” said Capt. John Hunt, DNR water resource enforcement manager. “Once a species like the zebra mussel gets into our waters, it’s very unlikely we can eliminate it. That’s why prevention is critical.”

The increased enforcement effort will include a greater presence at public water accesses, where officers will look closely for violations. Officers will also give out informational cards, which explain laws on transporting infested water and aquatic invasive species, to all boaters.

By taking a few simple steps when leaving a lake or river, boaters and anglers can do their part to help stop the spread of  aquatic hitchhikers.

The key steps are to clean, drain, and dry boats and equipment:

* Clean all aquatic plants, zebra mussels, and other aquatic animals from boats, equipment and trailers before leaving the water access.

* Drain water from bilges, live wells, and bait containers before leaving the water access.

* Dry boats and equipment for five days, or spray with high pressure and hot water before transporting to another lake or river.

The zebra mussels can be unintentionally transported on boats and trailers because they can remain alive while being transported out of water, and they attach to boats, aquatic plants, and other objects.

Intercepting invasive-contaminated boats at landings is just a small part of the solution, Hunt noted, because it will take the combined efforts of citizens, businesses, visitors, and other law enforcement agencies to contain the spread of these harmful species.

“Any success in controlling the spread of invasive species will rely heavily on boat owners taking responsibility for their boats,” Hunt said. “It’s important that they know what to look for and thoroughly clean their boats.”

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