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More boaters ticketed for invasive species violations

ST. PAUL — Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials said Thursday that they are finding too many boaters who are not taking required steps to prevent spreading aquatic invasive species.

The DNR reported watercraft inspectors working at public water access points this summer have found more than 1,300 boaters with aquatic plants, invasive animals or water in or on their boats.

Meanwhile, conservation officers have issued 169 citations and 375 warning tickets to boaters for invasive species violations at enforcement check stations and public accesses. Fines ranged from $100 to $500.

More than one in four boaters checked this summer have had some sort of invasive species violation.

State law requires anglers and other boaters make sure they transport no water from lake to lake, along with making sure they move no weeds or any invasive species, such as zebra mussels. That means draining live wells and bilges, clearing trailers of all weeds and removing the plug from the boat to allow any water to drain or dry out.

“Far too many people are still not following the law,” Greg Salo, DNR central region enforcement manager, said in a news release. “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.”

DNR officials say they will conduct an intensive inspection effort starting today and continuing through Sunday, including more inspectors at boat landings and more roadway checkpoints by conservation officers. They noted it takes only one infested boat to introduce an invasive species into an uninfested lake or river. Minnesota now has 175 lakes infested with zebra mussels, for example.

In Minnesota is it illegal to:

• Transport watercraft without the drain plug removed.

• Arrive at a 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.

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 currently are infested with invasive species.

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