Sailing News & Views

Road Checks Find Boaters Doing a Better Job of Removing Exotic Species from Boat Trailers

A series of educational road checks, conducted by the Minnesota Department of natural Resources (DNR), found many boats and trailers clean of harmful aquatic plants and animals such as Eurasian watermilfoil or zebra mussels.

State conservation officers recently conducted exotic species/acuatic plant transportation road checks near Baudette, checking 85 vehicles during a two-day period. Algae was discovered on two trailers, but no exotic species were detected and no aquatic plants were confirmed. An exotic species road check of 187 vehicles near Anoka resulted in only 16 warnings issued for small amounts of vegetation on boats and trailers.

Minnesota is currently home to numerous exotic plants and animals. Some of these have been determined to be detrimental to native flora and fauna. In an effort to control these species, state law prohibits the transportation of selected species of plants and animals. State conservation officers believe the road checks help protect and preserve waterways from harmful species.

“Road checks are an important tool in raising awareness of the laws and preventing the spread of harmful exotic species in Minnesota,” said Lt. jim Dunn, DNR Enforcement Division district supervisor in Baudette. “We were pleased to see such strong compliance and encourage boaters to keep up the good work.”

Harmful exotics pose a threat to Minnesota waters, native aquatic plants and animals, and waterbased recreation, including fishing.

Currently, these harmful exotics are living in relatively few Minnesota lakes and rivers, but they could easily spread - and new species could enter from other states - if citizens who use state waters don’t take the necessary steps to prevent the spread of harmful exotic species.

Minnesotans can take steps to help stop the spread of exotics:

• remove any visible plants and animals from boats, trailers and other boating equipment before leaving any water body

• drain water from the motor, livewell, bilge and transom wells at the ramp or access before leaving any water body

• dispose of unwanted minnows and leeches on shore; never release live bait into a water body or release aquatic animals from one water body to another

• wash and dry boats and other boating equipment that normally gets wet in order to kill exotic animal species that were not visible at the boat launch

• before transporting to another water body, either rinse watercraft with hot tap water, spray with high pressure water such as a car wash, or dry for at least five days.

The DNR will be conducting more road checks in the future to prevent the inadvertent transportation of aquatic species in Minnesota.

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