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Watercraft owners tips to prevent spread of AIS

Gary Korsgaden

Education is the key to slowing or stopping the spread of AIS. We all want to be a source of the solution not the problem. Here are some tips we all should follow. May seem awkward at first but overtime come naturally to all of us.

n It is illegal to knowingly or unknowingly transport any AIS in Minnesota, laws are already on the books.

n When leaving lakes and rivers all valves for live wells and the plug for the bilge area must be removed and allowed to drain. Portable bait buckets carrying minnows and leeches must be drained as well.

n Carry a boating sponge to soak any remaining water in the bilge area. If you intend to keep your minnows and leeches have a container of water in the truck to exchange the water before leaving the access. You should put these bait containers into your vehicle. In the event you get stopped at a check point, they will be looking for drained live wells and bilges and that no portable bait containers holding water are in the boat.

n If you're lake hopping, at the launch site of another lake close your valves and obviously put in your plug (note the plug can be put in from the outside of the boat) before backing down to the launch ramp. This will prevent any water left in the live wells and bilge area, from a previous body of water, draining at the launch ramp.

n Lower your motor, this will allow water to properly drain from the lower unit.

n Examine your boat and trailer and remove any aquatic vegetation before leaving the access. Be considerate of others at access site and pull out of launching ramp areas when doing this.

n Check the position of your boat on the trailer make sure the bow is slightly higher then the stern, if not adjust bow rollers to raise the bow, this will allow for better water drainage from the bilge area.

n Know the waters you're fishing, meaning what AIS if any is found in them. This information is posted at the access sites and is available in your 2012 fishing Rules and Regulations booklet.

n If lake hopping, fish waters known to have AIS last. At launch sites with zebra mussels, wash down equipment could be available. If not be sure you wash down your boat with 140 degree water or let it dry for at least five days.

n A new law passed in 2011 requires a water craft owner to obtain and attach a aquatic invasive species rules decal to all types of watercraft prior to launching on and entering into, or operating on any waters of the state. These decals are available at sport shops, with you're watercraft renewal, DNR offices and license vendors.

After August 1, 2014 it will be a petty misdemeanor for boaters who don't display one on their watercraft.

Gary Korsgaden is a Park Rapids resident and longtime outdoor writer.