With the Minnesota hunting season underway, it is important for waterfowl hunters to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
Invasive species such as purple loosestrife, zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil and faucet snails can be transported in waterfowl hunters' boats, decoys or blind material and other equipment without the proper precautions.
"Hunters should take a few minutes to clean plants and mud, and drain water from duck boats, decoys, decoy lines, waders and push poles," said Eric Katzenmeyer, DNR invasive species specialist. "It's the key to avoiding the spread of aquatic invasive species in waterfowl habitat."
Invasive species can damage habitat for waterfowl, fish and other wildlife, and can even cause waterfowl die-offs. For example, faucet snails can carry parasites that kill ducks.
The DNR recommends the following to help slow the spread of aquatic invasive species:
- Use elliptical, bulb-shaped or strap decoy anchors
- Drain water and remove all plants and animals from boats and equipment
- Remove all plants and animals from anchor lines and blind materials
- Check compartments or storage in boats or kayaks that aren’t in use the rest of the year
Also, waterfowl hunters who want to use cattails or other plants for camouflage must cut them above the water line if they want to move them from lake to lake. They should not cut or move the seedheads of emergent non-native Phragmites, a restricted noxious weed in Minnesota also known as common reed.
To kill or remove invasive species seeds or young zebra mussels that are difficult to see, the DNR recommends that boaters use a high-pressure spray or a hot water rinse before launching into another water body (120 degrees F for at least two minutes or 140 degrees F for at least 10 seconds). Air drying can also be effective, but may require more time due to cooler weather.
The DNR has a short video that shows the various methods for preventing the spread of invasive species while hunting waterfowl.
Waterfowl hunters aren’t the only ones who should be vigilant about the spread of invasive species. Trappers also should clean their equipment before moving it to another body of water.
“Trappers of muskrats and other furbearers should also keep the ‘Clean in-Clean out’ mantra in mind,” said DNR invasive species specialist Tim Plude. “All traps, lines, boots and waders should be cleaned after each use to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.”
More information is available at mndnr.gov/ais.