Despite extensive education and publicity efforts, there’s still a fair amount of confusion concerning Minnesota’s laws to reduce the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) or aquatic nuisance species (ANS), as they’re called in North Dakota.
That’s especially true for nonresidents visiting the state, and with the Fourth of July holiday approaching, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources today issued a news release outlining the laws.
The big one, of course, is the requirement that drain plugs be pulled from bilges and live wells while transporting watercraft. The boat plug law is now three years old, but it remains one of the most common AIS-related violations, the DNR said.
It’s also a law that could sting North Dakota residents transporting their boats in Minnesota because North Dakota law doesn’t require that drain plugs be removed during transport. Needless to say, ignorance is no excuse, and nonresidents are subject to the same laws as Minnesota residents when transporting boats and other water-related equipment and face the same potential for citations when violations occur.
“Minnesota’s lakes, rivers and forests are a big draw for visitors,” John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota Tourism, said in a news release. “It’s important that everyone who enjoys our woods and waters helps protect these natural treasures.”
“It’s important for everyone to take the time to read and understand the laws — they may be different than your home state’s AIS laws,” said Ann Pierce, DNR invasive species unit supervisor. “Not only do the laws help protect Minnesota waters from new infestations, they are a sound practice to reduce the chance of taking home an unwanted aquatic hitchhiker to your own community.”
Before traveling to Minnesota every boater must:
- Clean all aquatic plants, zebra mussels and other prohibited invasive species from boats and trailers.
- Drain water from boat, bait buckets and motor; drain livewell and bilge by removing drain plugs.
- Keep drain plugs out while transporting watercraft.
In Minnesota is it 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.
More information about Minnesota’s AIS laws is posted on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/ais.