ST. PAUL, Minn. - Despite a rash of publicity and a public presence on boat landings across the state, data from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources suggests boaters just aren't getting the message about preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS).
The DNR announced Monday that so far this season one in five boaters is failing the inspection, a number officials say they can't tolerate.
"This rate is unacceptable," said Maj. Phil Meier, DNR Enforcement Division operations manager. "The majority of violations could have been avoided if people had taken the time to change their routine when leaving lakes and rivers, and comply with AIS laws."
The extra aquatic invasive species patrols began May 12 and will continue through the summer.
"Enforcement activities, whether educational opportunities or issuing citations and warnings, are geared towards compliance," said Meier. "Enforcement is a primary motivator to changing the behavior of those who may intentionally or unintentionally move invasive species."
Through June 6, conservation officers made more than 20,000 combined law and education contacts, issuing 193 criminal citations, 463 civil citations, 975 written warnings and 267 verbal warnings.
"We hope these citations, warnings and public contacts will continue to raise awareness that this state looks at invasive species very seriously," Meier said. "We will enforce the rules."
Under Minnesota law, it is illegal to transport invasive aquatic plants and animals, as well as water, from water bodies infested with zebra mussels and spiny waterfleas. Violators could face fines up to $500. Some penalty amounts will double beginning July 1.
Anglers and boaters are required by law to:
- Drain bait buckets, bilges and live wells before leaving any water access.
- Remove aquatic plants from boats and trailers to prevent the spread of invasive species.
- Pull the plug on their boat and drain all water when leaving all waters of the state.
- Keep the drain plug out while transporting water-related equipment on roadways.
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