Shoreland owners

Help protect Minnesota waters from aquatic invasive species

Minnesota law requires docks and boat lifts to be out of the water for at least 21 days before putting them in another body of water.

When removing boats, docks, lifts, or other water-related equipment from lakes and rivers, carefully inspect everything to make sure there are no aquatic invasive species (AIS) such as zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil, or New Zealand mudsnails attached.


Look on the posts, wheels, and underwater support bars of docks and lifts, as well as any parts of boats, pontoons, and rafts that may have been submerged in water for an extended period. In newly infested waters, adult zebra mussels may not be abundant and you might notice only a few mussels on your equipment.

If you think you have discovered an invasive species that has not already been confirmed in your lake, contact your area DNR aquatic invasive species specialist.


Early detection for zebra mussels is important in protecting your property and Minnesota's water resources. Learn how you can become a volunteer zebra mussel monitor.


Many different invasive plants and animals harm Minnesota waters. Learn to identify aquatic invasive species. 

Click to enlarge:

illustration of a zebra mussel

Illustration of a zebra mussel.


photo of zebra mussels found on a boat lift

Zebra mussels found on a boat lift.


photo of zebra mussels found on a boat lift

A hard-to-spot zebra mussel on a trailer.

Zebra mussels are small, fingernail-sized animals that attach to solid surfaces in water. Adults are 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches long and have D-shaped shells with alternating yellow and brownish colored stripes.

Here is a photo of zebra mussels found on a boat lift. If you find zebra mussels on your watercraft or equipment, you should take a picture of it, keep a specimen, and report finding to the nearest DNR invasive species specialist.

A hard-to-spot zebra mussel on a trailer.

Reporting aquatic invasive species

Responding quickly to new AIS infestations is critical to help curb the spread into other waterbodies. If you find something you suspect is a zebra mussel, faucet snail, or other aquatic invasive species, note the exact location, take a photo, keep the specimen, and contact a local Minnesota DNR AIS Specialist or fisheries office.


Hiring businesses to install or remove water-related equipment

If you hire a business to install or remove your boat, dock, or lift, or other water-related equipment, make sure they have completed AIS training and are on the DNR's list of Permitted Service Providers. Lake service providers that have completed DNR training and obtained their service provider permit will have a permit sticker in the lower driver's-side corner of their vehicle's windshield. They have attended training on AIS laws and many have experience identifying and removing invasive species.


Moving docks, lifts, and equipment to another waterbody

If you plan to move a dock, lift or other water equipment from one lake or river to another, all visible zebra mussels, faucet snails, and aquatic plants must be removed whether they are dead or alive. You may not transport equipment with prohibited invasive species or aquatic plants attached. The equipment must be out of the water for 21 days before it can be placed in another waterbody.


Storing lifts and docks for winter

You may remove water-related equipment from a water body – even if it has zebra mussels or other prohibited invasive species attached – and place it on the adjacent shoreline property without a permit.

However, if you want to transport a dock or lift to another location for storage or repair, you may need a permit to authorize transport of prohibited invasive species and aquatic plants.


Transporting watercraft for storage

You may not transport any watercraft with zebra mussels, faucet snails, or other prohibited invasive species or aquatic plants attached away from a water access or other shoreland property, even if you intend to put it in storage for the winter.

If you need to transport your watercraft at the end of the season, you may need a permit to authorize transport of prohibited invasive species and aquatic plants.


Transporting Aquatic Plants for Disposal

You may not transport aquatic plants from a shoreland property to a disposal location without a permit. Shoreland owners interested in transporting aquatic plants – including aquatic plants with prohibited invasive species attached – to a disposal location must complete and sign a permit to authorize transport of aquatic plants and attached prohibited invasive species.

Back to top