Preventing the introduction of invasive species

Purple loosestrife MN DNR photo.
Purple loosestrife - MN DNR

Why are invasive species a problem?

Invasive species are organisms that have been introduced into areas where they are not native. Invasive species are a problem because they are:

  • Among the most severe agents of habitat alteration and degradation.
  • A major factor in the continuing loss of biological diversity throughout the world.
  • Have caused extinction of some native species.
  • Can be thought of as "biological pollutants."

Moving plants or animals, accidentally or intentionally, from one habitat into another where they've never been before is risky business. Species introduced under favorable conditions will often overrun their new home and crowd out important native species. This happens because of the absence of predators, parasites, pathogens and competitors from their native habitat. Once established, invasives are difficult to eliminate.

Protect your lake

There are many best management practices you can adopt as an individual to minimize the spread of aquatic invasive plants and animals:

Man and woman in lake looking for invasive species

Learn what these organisms look like and monitor for their presence.

If you suspect a new infestation of an invasive plant or animal, report it to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) invasive species program.

For help with identifying invasive species:

Consult the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Consult the Minnesota DNR for recommendations and permits before you try to control or eradicate an invasive pest. Remember, invasive species thrive on disturbance. Do-it-yourself control treatments often make matters worse and can harm native species.

Organize educational campaigns and committees

Your lake association or civic group could also undertake an educational campaign in your area. Contact the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center to find out how you can become an AIS detector or tracker.

Conduct public awareness events

Conduct public awareness events at water accesses. At DNR accesses, notify the DNR before planning an activity.

Help stop aquatic hitchhikers sign. MN DNR
MN DNR

Don't transport species

Don't transport water, animals or plants from one lake or river to another. In Minnesota, it's illegal to transport surface water, aquatic plants or invasive species.

Check and remove plants and animals

Remove plants and animals from your boat, trailer and accessory equipment before leaving the water access area. Make sure you check all equipment such as anchors, centerboards, trailer hitch, wheels, rollers, cables and axles.

Drain water before leaving water access

Drain your livewell, bait bucket and bilge water before leaving the water access area.

Northern water milfoil - photo from MN DNR.
Northern water milfoil - MN DNR

Empty your bait bucket on land, never into the water 

Empty your bait bucket on land and never into the water. Never dip your bait bucket into one lake if it has water in it from another. And, never dump live bait from one water body into another.

Wash your boat with hot water

Wash your boat, tackle, downrigger cables and trailer with hot water. Flush hot water (at least 104 F) through your motor's cooling system and other boat parts that normally get wet. If possible, spray your boat, trailer and accessories with hot, high pressure water. Let everything dry for 5 days before transporting your boat to another body of water (both hot water and drying will kill zebra mussels).

Reviewed in 2018

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