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Paynesville Press - July 9, 2003

Boaters reminded to help prevent spread of exotic species

Boaters are reminded by the Department of Natural Resources to keep up the good work in minimizing the spread of harmful exotic species such as Eurasian watermilfoil and zebra mussels.

By taking a few simple steps like removing all aquatic plants from their boat and trailer and by emptying water from live wells and bait buckets, boaters can help prevent the spread of exotic species in the state's water bodies.

About 90 percent of Minnesota boaters who responded to a survey sponsored by Minnesota Sea Grant and the DNR said they took action to prevent the spread harmful exotic species, up from 70 percent who said they took similar measures in 1994.

"Thanks to boaters and exotic species awareness efforts, the DNR believes the distribution of harmful exotic species such as Eurasian watermilfoil and zebra mussels is much less than it could be," said Jay Rendall, DNR exotic species program coordinator. "The potential to spread harmful exotic species and several fish diseases is still great, and we need Minnesotans to continue with their high level of action."

Using a combination of radio and television ads, signs at public accesses, watercraft inspections, and public service announcements across the state, the DNR hopes boaters and anglers will continue to remove aquatic plants from their trailer, empty live wells and bait buckets, and also remember to dispose of unwanted live bait including worms and minnows in the trash rather than dumping them in the lakes and woods.

"Precautions should now be part of routine for boaters," Rendall said. "These simple precautions help boaters comply with the state laws that prohibit the transport of aquatic plants and zebra mussels."

Last year, DNR biologists found eight additional infested lakes, bringing the total number of infested water bodies in the state to 141. In addition, the threat of zebra mussel spread increases as they become more abundant.

In the Paynesville area, Eurasian watermilfoil has been found in Green Lake near Spicer.

The Minnesota Legislature directed the DNR to establish the Exotic Species Program in 1991 to address problems caused by harmful exotic species. The program is responsible for preventing introductions, curbing their spread, and management of harmful exotic species of aquatic plants and wild animals.

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