Stop the Spread of Nuisance Species

An increasing number of non-native aquatic plants and animals are invading Vermont waters. When moved into new waters, these species rapidly multiply, causing significant economic and ecological damage. Do your part to help prevent the spread of nuisance species.

Inspect your vessel, trailer, and equipment (motor, anchors, centerboards, rollers, axles, etc.), and remove any plants and animals you see before leaving the area.

Discard unused bait in the trash, or leave it with someone fishing in the same body of water.

Drain water from the motor, live well, bilge, and transom wells while on land and before leaving the area.

Rinse your vessel, propeller, trailer, and equipment with tap water (preferably hot) or at a car wash.

Dry vessel and equipment in the sun for at least 5 days.

Learn how to identify aquatic nuisance species.

Report sightings of aquatic nuisance species to:
Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation
Water Quality Division


  • The transport of zebra mussel, Eurasian watermilfoil, water chestnut, or quagga mussel to or from any Vermont surface water is illegal in Vermont (under Vermont Statutes Annotated, Title 10, Chapter 47, §1266 regarding the transport of aquatic plants and aquatic nuisance species). The law defines an aquatic plant as a “plant that naturally grows in water, saturated soils, or seasonally saturated soils, including algae and submerged, floating-leafed, floating, or emergent plants.”
  • Effective July 1, 2010, any person who violates this law may be subject to a fine of up to $1,197 per violation.

Types of Aquatic Nuisance Species

Introducing non-native species into Vermont waters can upset the balance of the ecosystem, harming the environment. Below are some common nuisance species.

Eurasian Watermilfoil A prolific aquatic plant found in Lake Champlain and many inland lakes in Vermont. It interferes with boating and displaces native plants. It is spread easily when plant fragments are caught and moved via boat trailers, propellers, anchors, or wet wells. Plant fragments can initiate new plants and become well established.

Zebra Mussel A tiny D-shaped mollusk, well established in Lake Champlain. It can clog water intake pipes, damage vessel engines, obscure historic shipwrecks, and alter native species populations. Adult zebra mussels can attach to and be moved on vessel hulls, engines, and other equipment. Microscopic larvae can get trapped and moved in water of vessel engines, bilges, bait buckets, and live wells.

Water Chestnut A prolific annual plant found in southern Lake Champlain, Lake Bomoseen, and a few inland lakes. It interferes with boating, hunting, and fishing and displaces native plants. It is spread by seeds or rosettes caught in vessels and equipment.

Alewife A small bait fish recently found in Lake St. Catherine. The alewife may displace smelt and other native forage fish. It can be introduced to new bodies of water if accidentally or intentionally caught and used for bait or if dumped from bait buckets or live wells.

To prevent spreading aquatic nuisance species, inspect your trailer and remove any plants and animals you see before leaving the area.