NORTH IOWA OUTDOORS: Help Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers This Fourth of July

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking all boaters and anglers to check for unwanted hitchhikers on their boats and equipment this Fourth of July to help protect Iowa lakes and streams.

Aquatic invasive species, everything from zebra mussels to Eurasian watermilfoil, move from one water body to another by hitchhiking on boats, in bait buckets and on other equipment used in the water. They can create serious problems for Iowa waters.

“Aquatic invasive species can reduce native species and make lakes and rivers unusable for boaters, anglers, and swimmers, “said Kim Bogenschutz, aquatic invasive species coordinator for the Iowa DNR.

These invasive species often grow quickly and spread fast when brought to another lake or stream due to lack of natural controls.

“Boaters and anglers can help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species to new water bodies by cleaning, draining and drying their boats and equipment after each time on the water,” said Bogenschutz.

  • CLEAN any plants, animals, or mud from your boat and equipment before you leave a waterbody.
  • DRAIN water from all equipment (motor, live well, bilge, transom well, bait bucket) before you leave a waterbody.
  • DRY anything that comes into contact with water (boats, trailers, equipment, boots, clothing, dogs). Before you move to another water body either: Spray your boat and trailer with hot or high-pressure water; or Dry your boat and equipment for at least five days.
  • Never release plants, fish or animals into a water body unless they came out of that waterbody and always empty unwanted bait in the trash.

It is illegal to possess or transport prohibited aquatic invasive species. It is also illegal to transport any aquatic plants on water-related equipment in Iowa.  Signs posted at public accesses remind boaters to stop aquatic hitchhikers and identify infested waters.

Boaters must drain all water from boats and equipment before they leave a water access way and keep drain plugs removed or opened during transport. It is also illegal to introduce any live fish, except for hooked bait, into public waters.

Find more information about aquatic invasive species and a list of infested waters in the current Iowa Fishing Regulations or at www.iowadnr.gov/ais.