Minnesota invasive species laws


Minnesota has several state laws intended to minimize the introduction and spread of invasive species of wild animal and aquatic plants in the state. Using a four-tiered system, invasive species are classified as prohibited, regulated, unregulated nonnative species, or are unclassified and remain as unlisted nonnative species.

This classification system establishes the level of regulation and allowable uses for each species. The MN DNR has regulatory authority over aquatic plants and animals, and terrestrial vertebrates. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has regulatory authority over terrestrial plants (noxious weeds) and plant pests. See the terrestrial invasive species laws web page for more information.

Below is a summary of several current state regulations regarding invasive species. For complete information on state statutes and rules regarding invasive species, call the DNR Invasive Species Program at 651-259-5100, or view the invasive species statutes and rules at the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

Prohibited invasive species

Certain invasive species that can threaten natural resources and their use have been designated as prohibited invasive species in Minnesota. It is unlawful (a misdemeanor) to possess, import, purchase, transport, or introduce these species except under a permit for disposal, control, research, or education. The prohibited invasive species in Minnesota include the following, and any hybrids, cultivars, or varieties of the species listed below:
Aquatic Plants

  • African oxygen weed (Lagarosiphon major)
  • aquarium watermoss or giant salvinia (Salvinia molesta)
  • Australian stonecrop (Crassula helmsii)
  • brittle naiad (Najas minor)*
  • common reed, nonnative subspecies (Phragmites australis ssp. australis, not including Phragmites australis ssp. americanus)*
  • curly-leaf pondweed (Potamogeton crispus)*
  • Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum)*
  • European frog-bit (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae)
  • flowering rush (Butomus umbellatus)*
  • hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata)
  • Indian swampweed (Hygrophila polysperma)
  • purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria, Lythrum virgatum, or any variety, hybrid, or cultivar thereof)*
  • starry stonewort (Nitellopsis obtusa)*
  • water aloe or water soldiers (Stratiotes aloides)
  • water chestnut (Trapa natans)
  • yellow floating heart (Nymphoides peltata)
  • the aquatic plants listed in Code of Federal Regulations, title 7, section 360.200, are designated as prohibited invasive species except for Chinese water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica)


  • Amur sleeper (Perccottus glenii)
  • bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis)*
  • black carp (Mylopharyngodon piceus)
  • crucian carp (Carassius carassius)
  • Eastern mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki)
  • Eurasian minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus)
  • European perch (Perca fluviatilis)
  • grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella)*
  • largescale silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys harmandi)
  • northern snakehead fish (Channa argus)
  • Oriental weatherfish (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus; aka: weather loach, dojo loach)
  • Prussian carp (Carassius gibelio)
  • roach (Rutilus rutilus)
  • round goby (Neogobius melanostomus)*
  • rudd (Scardinius erythrophthalmus)
  • ruffe (Gymnocephalus cernuus)*
  • sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus)*
  • silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix)*
  • stone moroko (Pseudorasbora parva)
  • tench (Tinca tinca)
  • tubenose gobies (any fish belonging to the genus Proterorhinus including Proterorhinus semilunaris or Proterorhinus marmoratus)*
  • wels catfish (Siluris glanis)
  • western mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis)
  • white perch (Morone americana)*
  • zander (Stizostedion lucioperca)
  • fish listed in Code of Federal  Regulations, title 50, section 16.13, are designated as prohibited invasive species, except  for salmonids listed as unregulated nonnative species in part 6216.0270.


  • faucet snail (Bithynia tentaculata)*
  • golden clam (Corbicula fluminea) *
  • golden mussel (Limnoperna fortunei)
  • jumping worms (Amynthas and Metaphire species)* – Effective July 1, 2024
  • marbled crayfish (marmorkrebs) (Procambarus virginalis or Procambarus fallax forma virginalis)
  • New Zealand mud snail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum)*
  • quagga mussel (Dreissena bugensis)*
  • red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii)*
  • yabby (Cherax destructor)
  • zebra mussel (Dreissena spp.)*
  • mollusks and crustaceans listed in Code of Federal Regulations, title 50, section 16.13, are designated as prohibited invasive species.


  • Asian raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides)
  • European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus
  • European wild boar (Sus scrofa scrofa)
  • nutria (Mycocastor coypu)

* These species are known to be in Minnesota.

Regulated invasive species

It is legal to possess, sell, buy, and transport regulated invasive species, but they may not be introduced into a free-living state, such as being released or planted in public waters. The regulated invasive species are:

Aquatic plants

  • Brazilian waterweed (Egeria densa)
  • Carolina fanwort or fanwort (Cabomba caroliniana)
  • Chinese water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica)
  • nonnative waterlilies (Nymphaea spp.)*
  • parrot's feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum)
  • water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes)
  • yellow iris or yellow flag (Iris pseudacorus)*


  • Egyptian goose (Alopochen aegyptiacus)
  • mute swan (Cygnus olor)*
  • Sichuan pheasant (Phasianus colchicus strachi)


  • alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus)*
  • common carp, koi (Cyprinus carpio)*
  • goldfish (Carassius auratus)*
  • rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax)*
  • tilapia (Oreochromis, Sarotherodon, and Tilapia spp.)


  • banded mystery snail (Viviparus georgianus)*
  • Chinese mystery snail, Japanese trap door snail (Cipangopaludina spp.)*
  • rusty crayfish (Orconectes rusticus)*
  • spiny waterflea (Bythotrephes longimanus)*


  • red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)*

* These species are known to be in Minnesota waters.

Unregulated nonnative species

The following nonnative species are not subject to regulation under Minnesota Invasive Species Statutes, but refer to fishing and hunting regulations for regulations on fishing, hunting, or transporting these species. 


  • Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar)
  • brown trout (Salmo trutta
  • coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch)
  • Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)
  • pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha)
  • rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss
  • subtropical, tropical, and saltwater fish, except anadromous species


  • Subtropical, tropical, and  saltwater invertebrates.


  • rat (Rattus norvegicus and Rattus rattus).


  • chukar partridge (Alectoris chukar)
  • helmeted Guinea fowl (Numida meleagris)
  • house sparrow (Passer domesticus domesticus)
  • Hungarian partridge, gray partridge (Perdix perdix)
  • peafowl (Pavo cristatus)
  • pigeon or rock dove (Columba livia)
  • ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)
  • starling (Sturnus vulgaris vulgaris)

Unlisted nonnative species

Unlisted nonnative species are those that are not prohibited, regulated, or unregulated. Several steps must occur before an unlisted nonnative species may be legally released into a free-living state:

  • the individual proposing to release the species must file an application and supporting information with the Minnesota DNR
  • The DNR must conduct a thorough evaluation
  • The species must be designated into an appropriate classification

Transportation prohibitions

Current state law prohibits transportation of all aquatic plants (with a few exceptions). This law will not only help prevent the spread of Eurasian watermilfoil, but it will also reduce the risk of zebra mussels being transported while attached to aquatic plants. In addition, it will reduce the inadvertent transport of other harmful plants into or within the state.

Under state law, it is unlawful to:

  • transport aquatic plants, except as allowed in statutes ($100 civil penalty or misdemeanor)
  • transport zebra mussels and other prohibited species of animals ($500 civil penalty or misdemeanor)
  • place or attempt to place into waters of the state a boat, seaplane, or trailer that has aquatic plants ($200 civil penalty), zebra mussels, or other prohibited invasive species attached ($500 civil penalty or misdemeanor).

As of July 1, 2012, a boat lift, dock, swim raft, or associated equipment that has been removed from any water body may not be placed in another water body until a minimum of 21 days have passed.

Regulations on transport of water

As of July 1, 2012, the following regulations apply to the transportation of water in boats and other water-related equipment by boaters from all waters in the state ($100 civil penalty or misdemeanor):

  • A person leaving waters of the state must drain all water from water-related equipment, including bait containers, live wells, and bilges, by removing the drain plug before transporting the watercraft and  equipment from the water access or riparian property;
  • Drain plugs, bailers, valves, or other devices used to control the draining of water from ballast tanks, bilges, and live wells must be removed or opened while transporting watercraft and water-related equipment;
  • Emergency response vehicles and equipment may be transported on a public road with the drain plug or other similar device replaced only after all water has been drained from the equipment upon leaving the water body.
  • The following are exempt from this subdivision:
    • portable bait containers used by licensed aquatic farms
    • portable bait containers used when fishing through the ice, except on waters designated infested for viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS)
    • marine sanitary systems.

Regulations in infested waters

The DNR designates waters that contain populations of Eurasian watermilfoil, faucet snail, New Zealand mudsnail, zebra mussel, ruffe, round goby, spiny water flea, VHS fish disease, and white perch as infested waters.

The following regulations apply to activities in infested waters:

  • taking wild animals (fish, frogs, crayfish, etc.) from infested waters for bait or aquatic farms is prohibited except for:
    • commercial purposes by permit in some infested waters
    • noncommercial bait harvest for personal use in waters that contain Eurasian water milfoil if:
      • the infested waters are designated solely because they contain Eurasian water milfoil, and
      • equipment for taking is a cylindrical minnow trap not exceeding 16 x 32 inches
  • all nets, traps, buoys, anchors, stakes, and lines used for commercial fishing or turtle, frog, or crayfish harvesting in an infested water that is designated because it contains invasive fish, invertebrates, or certifiable diseases, as defined in section 17.4982, may not be used in any other waters
  • equipment used for commercial fishing purposes in infested waters that are designated solely because they contain Eurasian watermilfoil must be dried or frozen before being used in noninfested waters (misdemeanor)

Infested Waters List

Regulations on transport of infested water

The following regulations apply to the transportation of water from infested waters:

  • water from infested waters may not be used to transport fish except by permit
  • water from infested waters may not be transported on a public road or off riparian property on infested waters except in emergencies or under permit ($200 civil penalty or misdemeanor)

Infested Waters List

Infested Waters Diversion or Transportation Permit Application

Crayfish regulations

The transportation of live native and invasive crayfish from one waterbody to another within the state is prohibited, except by permit issued by the DNR. Live crayfish or crayfish eggs may not be imported without a permit issued by the DNR. Live crayfish may not be sold for live bait. Live crayfish can only be sold for aquarium use if the species cannot survive in Minnesota if released. Live crayfish taken from a waterbody can only be used as bait in that same waterbody.


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