OUTDOORS NOTEBOOK: Minnesota DNR reminds boaters to follow AIS laws

With boating season in full swing, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is reminding everyone to follow the law and protect their waters from aquatic invasive species.

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Conservation Officer Patrick McGownan of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources inspects a boat and motor in this undated photo. With the summer boating season in full swing, the DNR is reminding boaters to follow the state's laws for minimizing the risk of spreading aquatic invasive species. (Minnesota DNR)

With boating season in full swing, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is reminding everyone to follow the law and protect their waters from aquatic invasive species.

Already this year, DNR inspectors have stopped a number of boaters and businesses moving watercraft in and out of lakes with zebra mussels attached to boats or equipment.

"Far too many people are still not following the law," said Greg Salo, DNR Enforcement Division operations manager. "Some of these laws have been on the books for more than 15 years, and yet we're still seeing a violation rate around 17 percent. That's unacceptable. Violators should know better by now."

More than 500 Minnesota rivers, lakes and wetlands are designated as infested with aquatic invasive species. That leaves more than 10,000 bodies of water to protect.

"Everyone using Minnesota waters must remember that Clean, Drain, Dispose is not only the best way to protect their lakes and rivers, it's also the law," said Ann Pierce, section manager of the DNR's Ecological and Water Resources Division. Fines for violations range from $100 to $500.


Before leaving a water access, boaters are required to:

• Clean off all aquatic plants and animals.

• Drain all water from bilge, livewell and baitwell by removing drain plugs and leaving the drain plug out when transporting.

• Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.

More information, including a 25-minute video titled "Aquatic Invasive Species, Minnesota Waters at Risk," is available at: mndnr/AIS.

Threat of exotics in N.D. waters continues

Minnesota isn't alone in its message to prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species, and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department has issued a similar reminder. Fred Ryckman, ANS coordinator for Game and Fish, says he applauds the efforts of those who keep North Dakota waters free of unwanted species.

"But at the same time, there are others who do not follow the regulations," Ryckman said. "It is critically important for everyone to comply, so that the vast majority of our state's waters remain ANS free."


Current North Dakota law states:

• Water must be drained from watercraft prior to leaving a water body, including livewells.

• Bait buckets and/or any container of 5 gallons or less in volume can be used to transport legal live baitfish or other bait in water.

• All other fish species may not be held in water and/or transported in bait buckets or containers when away from a water body.

• Transportation of fish in or on ice is allowed.

• No aquatic vegetation or parts shall be in or on watercraft, motors, trailers and recreational equipment when out of water.

• Time out of the water needed to remove aquatic vegetation at the immediate water access area is allowed.

• All built-in structures in boats, including livewells and bait compartments, and containers (bait buckets) used to transport legal live bait, also must be free of aquatic vegetation.


• All legal live aquatic organisms used by anglers, including legal baitfish (fathead minnows), amphibians (salamanders and frogs), invertebrates (crayfish and leeches) and insects must be purchased and/or trapped in North Dakota.

-- N.D. Game and Fish Department

N.D. paddlefish test clean after oil spill

Muscle tissue and eggs from 30 paddlefish snagged this spring in North Dakota have come back clear of any lingering effects from a January oil spill in the Yellowstone River in Montana.

Greg Power, fisheries chief for Game and Fish in Bismarck, said the department and North Star Caviar, a nonprofit group that processes paddlefish eggs into caviar for sale, sent the samples to a lab for analysis to find out whether there was any contamination from 30,000 gallons of crude oil that entered the Yellowstone River near Glendive, Mont., after a pipeline break in mid-January.

"Since fish below the spill could have been exposed, and the Yellowstone River extends into North Dakota where our paddlefish season is open, it was imperative we sampled the edible muscle tissue and eggs to make sure these fish were clear of contamination," Power said.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks found similar results earlier this spring after analyzing 213 fish representing species known to live in the Yellowstone River between the spill site and the North Dakota border. All of those fish were found clear of any oil-related contamination.

-- N.D. Game and Fish Department


Volunteers needed to plant pollinator garden

Agassiz Audubon Society and the Middle Snake Tamarac Rivers Watershed District are seeking volunteers age 15 and older to help plant a "pollinator garden" at 9 a.m. June 20 at the Agassiz Audubon Center, 27569 190th St. N.W., near Warren, Minn.

Pollinators include bees, butterflies, moths, wasps, flies, beetles, bats and hummingbirds. Bees - both native bees and honey bees - are considered the most important pollinators in temperate North America, and populations of all pollinator species have fallen drastically in recent years. According to a 2010 government report, pollinators are "important in 35 percent of global crop production, and they produce the seeds and fruits that sustain wildlife as diverse as songbirds and black bears."

Conservationists believe a number of factors have caused pollinators to decline, including exposure to pathogens, parasites and pesticides, as well as habitat fragmentation.

Volunteers should bring garden gloves and hand tools if possible and wear shoes suitable for conditions that may be wet or muddy.

For more information or to register, call (218) 746-5663 or email .

-- Herald staff report

Minnesota elk apps due June 12


Hunters have until June 12, to apply for one of seven elk licenses offered this year by the Minnesota DNR.

Hunters interested in applying for a license can find maps of the two hunting zones and other pertinent information on the DNR website at

hunting/elk. Elk licenses will be available in Kittson County's central and northeast zones, while the Grygla area will be closed to enable that area's elk population to rebuild to goal levels.

Apply at any DNR license agent, online at or by telephone at (888) 665-4236. Hunters may apply individually or in parties of two. There is a nonrefundable application fee of $4 per hunter. License cost is $287.

- Minnesota DNR

Did you know?

• The National Wildlife Federation has named Jim Posewitz as its 2015 Conservationist of the Year. Posewitz is a longtime outdoorsman, conservation advocate and hunting ethicist and has written four books on hunter ethics: "Beyond Fair Chase: The Ethic and Tradition of Hunting," "Inherit the Hunt: A Journey into the Heart of American Hunting," "Rifle in Hand: How Wild America was Saved" and "Take a Bullet for Conservation."

• According to Audubon Minnesota, hummingbird nectar does not need food coloring since the color of the feeder itself will attract the hummingbirds.


• The Minnesota DNR has begun inspecting all watercraft entering Itasca State Park for aquatic invasive species. As part of the effort, which began Friday, watercraft will be inspected at the north entrance, and hours will vary. During inspection hours, all watercraft arriving at the south or east park entrances will be routed to the north entrance.

• The DNR is asking Minnesota lakeshore owners and residents to report any mudpuppy salamanders they see, especially die-offs on rivers and lakes. A die-off is defined as five or more dead salamanders in a lake at the same place at the same time. Several die-offs have been reported in recent years on Big Cormorant and Melissa lakes in Becker County, the DNR said, and mudpuppies in 2013 were added to the state's list of endangered and threatened species as a species of special concern because of habitat loss, stream siltation and pollution, and overharvest for bait or by biological supply companies. Any mudpuppies caught or found dead should be photographed and reported to or by calling the report line at (651) 259-5076.

• The DNR is seeking entries for Minnesota's trout and salmon, migratory waterfowl, pheasant, walleye and turkey stamp competitions. Info:

• As it does every year, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department is reminding the public to leave baby animals that appear to be orphaned alone. More often than not, young animals are not abandoned or deserted, and the mother is probably watching nearby. Young wildlife are purposely placed into seclusion by their mothers to protect them from predators.

• June is a peak month for deer‑vehicle accidents because young animals are dispersing from their home ranges. With deer more active during these months, the potential for car‑deer collisions increases, so motorists should be on the lookout.

Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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