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So I love being in the water and on the water. I’m also an aquatic biologist. So I recognize the real harm that can be caused when nonnative species get introduced from one body of water to another. Some of the common invasive species are Zebra Mussels, Quagga Mussels, Milfoil, Hydrilla, Purple Loosestrife, and Exotic Fish. And if you think about it, invasive species are a lot more than just a nuisance. Besides damaging water environments, they cost us billions of dollars a year to fight and control them. Some of this stuff is so bad, it can kill our game fish and even shut down electric power plants.

So that’s the bad news. But the good news is that we can all fight back and help protect our waterways with just a little common sense. The reason they call these bad guys hitchhikers is because they’re mostly spread by hitching rides on our boats and trailers. And if we don’t let these invasive species ride away from here on our boats and gear, then they can’t get into some place else to cause trouble. It’s that simple.

So here is what you can do. Take the time to inspect your boat and trailer while removing any plants and animals before leaving the ramp area. Pull plugs and clean, drain, and dry your boat, livewell, and bilge on land before leaving.

Empty your bait bucket on land far enough away from water that it can’t get back into it. Trying to feed the fish by releasing bait into the water only hurts the environment. That’s why it’s illegal in some places. Rinse off your boat, propeller, trailer, bucket, floats, gear, you name it. The works. High pressure washing works best. Finally, air dry your boat and equipment for as long as possible before entering new waters.

And before you transport your boat out of state, you may need to get a certification, or affidavit, that certifies your boat, trailer, and other equipment are invasive-free. And just by doing these few simple things, we can all help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species.

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