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Course Outline

Introducing non-native species into South Dakota waters is illegal.

  • You may not possess, transport, sell, purchase, or propagate aquatic invasive species (AIS). For invasive fish and crayfish, only dead specimens may be transported or possessed. Exceptions include the following:
    • An employee of a business approved by the department may transport and possess watercraft with AIS for the purpose of watercraft decontamination.
    • An owner or agent of the owner of a boat registered in a department-approved local boat registry may transport and possess AIS in accordance with the provisions of the registry.
  • No person may launch or attempt to launch a boat or boat trailer into state waters with an AIS attached or on board.
    • Except for emergency response boats, all trailered boats must have all drain plugs, bailers, valves, or other water drainage devices opened or removed unless the boat is in a boat ramp parking area, being launched or loaded, or en route from a body of water to an immediately adjacent fish cleaning station.
    • Any boat or boat trailer may be inspected by a department representative who may require the removal of aquatic vegetation and AIS from any boat, motor, trailer, and associated equipment. If an AIS is found during inspection, a department-approved decontamination process, specific to the AIS present, is required before launching or transporting the boat to other waters.

Clean. Drain. Dry. Every Time!

To help protect South Dakota waters, always remember the following:

  • Drain Plugs: Boaters and anglers are required to open or remove all drain plugs or similar devices, except when the boat is in a boat ramp parking area, when it is being launched or loaded, or when it is on the water.

    What this means: Plugs have to be pulled when a boat is not on the water, even if it is in storage. Boaters and anglers may keep fish or bait in a live well while transporting the boat from the body of water to a cleaning station only if the station is located within the boat ramp parking area.

  • Transporting Bait or Fish: Bait and fish may not be transported away from a boat ramp or the shore in water taken from a lake, river, or stream, except while en route to a fish cleaning station located within the parking area. All lake, river, and stream water must be drained prior to leaving the fish cleaning station.

    What this means: If anglers wish to transport their aquatic bait and fish in water, the bait and fish can be transported only in domestic water (such as tap water, well water, bottled water, or ice). Most domestic water must be treated to remove chlorine prior to putting fish in it.

    Note: When leaving a body of water, boaters and shore anglers can wait until they reach a fish cleaning station to put their bait in domestic water if that fishing cleaning station is located within the boat ramp parking area.

Here are additional guidelines to protect South Dakota waters:

  • Immediately after loading your boat, inspect your boat, trailer, and equipment, and remove any visible plants, animals, or mud you see before leaving the area.
  • Drain all water from your boat, motor, live wells, ballasts, bilge, coolers, and other container on land before leaving the area. Never transport lake or river water away from the access area.
  • Dispose of unwanted bait in a dumpster, fish grinder, or other appropriate disposal location. Never release or dump live bait into a body of water or release aquatic animals from one body of water into another.
  • Pull your plugs immediately after loading your boat. Leave the plugs out until you are putting the boat back on the water.
  • Rinse or dry your boat, trailer, and fishing equipment to remove or kill species that were not visible when you left a body of water. Before transporting to another body of water, rinse your vessel with high pressure and/or hot water or air-dry it for at least five days.
  • Learn to identify AIS, and report any suspected sighting to the nearest SDGFP office.
Hydrilla on boat
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