Wisconsin boaters and anglers work to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species
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MADISON — Wisconsin boaters and anglers have increased their compliance with regulations designed to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, a new study shows.
According to the study, boaters and anglers surveyed in 2013 reported they were more likely to remove plants and animals and drain water from their craft before leaving a boat landing than those surveyed in 2009. The surveys were both conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in cooperation with the University of Wisconsin-Extension and UW-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication.
“These results are good news,” said Bob Wakeman, aquatic invasive species coordinator for DNR. “Boaters and anglers are taking the time to clean off their boats and trailers and drain water before moving to another water body. This means a lot to the protection of the state’s lakes, rivers and wetlands.”
DNR works with a variety of partners to help inform the boating public about aquatic invasive species control efforts. Anglers, hunters, recreational boaters and trappers all play a role in prevention by properly cleaning and draining equipment.
“Looks like the message has been sent and received, which is great news,” said Mike Engleson, executive director of Wisconsin Lakes. Information about how to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species can be found on signs at water access points and displays at public events. In recent years, volunteers have been stationed at boat landings to provide additional information to interested boaters.
The results of the survey also identified some areas where improved understanding of the aquatic invasive species law is needed. For example, a majority of boaters and anglers were unsure if they were required to perform certain preventive steps, such as disinfecting their watercraft. Boaters and anglers are not required to disinfect their boats, trailers and equipment.
“The results of this survey will help develop future outreach initiatives that will help clarify what boaters and anglers are required to do to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species,” said Tim Campbell, a communication specialist for UW-Extension and DNR.
Overall, the survey showed boaters and anglers are aware of the environmental challenges related to aquatic invasive species. Additionally, their opinions indicate that preventing the spread of these unwanted species is important to them and compliance with the regulations is high.
“There is no doubt that these high levels of compliance are helping protect Wisconsin’s water resources,” Wakeman said. “We want to thank our boaters and anglers for doing their part to stop aquatic hitchhikers.”
As a reminder, Wisconsin law requires boaters to:
• Inspect boats, trailers and equipment.
• Remove any attached aquatic plants or animals (before launching, after loading and before transporting on a public highway).
• Drain all water from boats, motors, and all equipment.
• Never move live fish away from a water body.
For more information on aquatic hitchhikers, visit DNR.wi.gov and search for “aquatic invasives.” An executive summary of the survey can be found on the UW-Extension website.