The Minnesota Department of Resources (DNR) Invasive Species Program recently made several confirmations of new aquatic invasive species (AIS) infestations in lakes around the state. The DNR urges people who think they may have discovered an aquatic invasive species to contact the DNR immediately or bring it to a local DNR office for verification.
"If people have a true concern about something they've found that might be an AIS, we want to check it out immediately," said Christine Herwig, invasive species specialist in Park Rapids. "We will respond quickly. Although not all reports end up uncovering actually infestations, we believe it is always better to be safe than sorry."
After a report is received, the DNR's first step is to obtain the sample from the individual who discovered it. If the specimen is confirmed as an invasive species, DNR fisheries and AIS crews survey shorelines and lake bottoms near the reported discovery sites. A typical survey involves shoreline searches in the immediate area of the discovery and lake bottom surveys in open water.
Herwig offers these suggestions to those who think they may have made a discovery:
Place the specimen in a bag or other container to keep it intact; if the specimen is an animal (e.g., snail, zebra mussel, spiny water flea), pour rubbing alcohol on it to preserve the animal.
Take a photo of the suspected invasive species.
Mark on a lake map or GPS the exact location where the specimen was found.
Contact the local DNR office immediately to arrange transport to a DNR official.
Email a photo and the location of the possible discovery to a local DNR office.
"We appreciate the reports we receive from citizens," said Herwig. "The DNR and citizens are in this together, so we need to work together to deal with AIS issues."
Minnesota law prohibits the possession or transport of any aquatic invasive species in the state unless it is a sample being transported directly to a DNR office for identification. AIS include, but are not limited to, zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil and spiny waterfleas.
Boaters and anglers need to continue to take extra precautions when using lakes to avoid spreading AIS to new waters. Boaters are required by law to:
Remove aquatic plants, zebra mussels and other prohibited species from boats, trailers and equipment before transporting from any water access.
Drain all water from bilges, livewells, motors, ballast tanks and portable bait containers before leaving water accesses or shoreline property.
Remove the drain plug, open water draining devises, and drain bilges and live wells; the drain plug must be removed or open when transporting a boat on public roads.
It is also recommended that people spray or rinse boats with high pressure and/or hot water, or let them dry thoroughly for five days before transporting to another body of water.
Boaters are also reminded of a new law that went into effect July 1. Boat lifts, docks, rafts and related equipment removed from any water body may not be placed in another water body until at least 21 days have passed.
A zebra mussel volunteer monitor report form is available online for lakeshore owners to complete and send to the DNR, even if zebra mussels are not found. That for can be accessed at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/volunteering/zebramussel_monitoring/index.html.
More information about aquatic invasive species is available on DNR website at www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/indes_aquatic.html.