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Minnesota DNR Wants You to ‘Think Zero’ at Fishing Opener - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Minnesota DNR Wants You to ‘Think Zero’ at Fishing Opener

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With more than 500,000 people expected take part in the walleye and northern pike season opener on Saturday, May 10, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources urges every angler to make a commitment to transport zero aquatic invasive species (AIS) this year.

Invasive species can be easily carried from one lake to another if aquatic plants and water are left on a boat or trailer. By taking a few simple precautions anglers can minimize the risk of spreading aquatic invasive species such as zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil and spiny waterfleas.

Zebra mussels pose serious ecological and economic threats to Minnesota’s lakes and streams. Heavy infestations can kill native mussels, impact fish populations and interfere with recreation.

“If we can reach our goal of zero AIS violations this year, it’s possible we can end the season with zero new infestations caused by human activity,” said Maj. Phil Meier, DNR Enforcement operations manager.

Conservation officers wrote more than 400 AIS citations at public water accesses last year. To help bring that number to zero, the DNR plans to increase AIS prevention activities this year.

“We now have more than 1,000 lake service providers trained and permitted in AIS prevention,” said Ann Pierce, section manager, DNR Ecological and Water Resources Division. “We’re also expanding the AIS volunteer educator program, and plan to have more people at public access sites with information on how to prevent the spread of invasive species.”

In addition, 100 more clean-and-drain areas will open at public water accesses statewide. These special areas provide safe and convenient places for boaters to clean and drain their boats.

To avoid a citation, anglers must take these steps required by law before leaving any water access or shore:

  • Clean aquatic plants and animals off boats, trailers and water-related equipment. It is illegal to transport them whether dead or alive.
  • Drain water-related equipment (boat, ballast tanks, portable bait container, motor) and drain bilge, livewell, and baitwell by removing drain plugs. 
  • Keep drain plugs out and water draining devices open while transporting watercraft. 
  • Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash. 
Some aquatic invasive species are small and difficult to see at the access. To remove or kill them before moving to another body of water, especially after leaving zebra mussel and spiny waterflea infested waters, the DNR recommends that anglers either:

  • Spray with high-pressure water.
  • Rinse with very hot water (120° for 2 minutes or 140° for 10 seconds).
  • Dry boat and equipment for at least five days.
“If everyone follows AIS laws and regulations, and shares the ‘Think Zero’ message with others who spend time fishing, boating or recreating on the water, we can slow the spread of invasive species,” Meier said.

“And, if doing the right thing isn’t enough of an incentive,” Meier said, “be aware that we’ll have more enforcement check stations near public waters this summer. Anglers and boaters can expect to be checked and cited by a conservation officer if found in violation of AIS laws.”

Citations range from $50 to $1,000.

More information, including a new 30-second public service announcement about stopping the spread of aquatic invasive species, is available at www.mndnr.gov/AIS.
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