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DNR: Too many boaters not following aquatic invasive species laws

 

This summer, the Department of Natural Resources is finding too many boaters and other water users taking unacceptable and illegal risks by transporting aquatic invasive species (AIS).

 

So far this season, watercraft inspectors have found more than 1,300 boaters arriving at public water accesses with aquatic plants, invasive animals or water in or on their boats and equipment. If not stopped, these boaters could have infested other lakes. Inspectors also found 2,600 boats arriving at the accesses with drain plugs in, another law violation.

 

In addition, DNR conservation officers 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.”

 

During the weekend of July 11-13, the DNR made an extra push to enforce the law. Anglers and boaters saw watercraft inspectors and stepped-up patrols. DNR conservation officers checked boats and equipment and made sure everyone  followed Minnesota’s AIS laws.

Minnesota currently has more than 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.

• 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 decon-tamination 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.

 

More information, including a 25 minute video titled, “Aquatic Invasive Species, Minnesota Waters at Risk,” is available online.


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