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DNR Urges Boaters to Protect Iowa Waters - Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers
Posted: 06/27/2014
“Clean. Drain. Dry.” 

That’s the slogan the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is reminding boaters and anglers to remember for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday to protect Iowa lakes and rivers from aquatic hitchhikers.

Aquatic hitchhikers are invasive species – everything from zebra mussels to Eurasian watermilfoil - that are transported from one water body to another by hitchhiking on boats, in bait buckets, and other equipment used in the water.  These aquatic invasive species can create serious problems for Iowa waters by reducing native species and making lakes and rivers unusable by boaters, anglers and swimmers.

“The best way to control the negative effects of aquatic invasive species in Iowa is to prevent their spread to new waterbodies,” said Kim Bogenschutz, aquatic invasive species program coordinator for the Iowa DNR. “By taking some simple precautions – clean, drain, dry – boaters and anglers can help stop aquatic hitchhikers.”

  • CLEAN any plants, animals, or mud from boat and equipment before leaving a water body.
  • DRAIN water from all equipment (motor, live well, bilge, transom well, bait bucket) before leaving a water body.
  • DRY anything that comes into contact with water (boats, trailers, equipment, boots, clothing, dogs). Before transporting to another water body either:
  • Spray your boat and trailer with hot, high-pressure water; or
  • Dry your boat and equipment for at least 5 days.
  • Never release plants, fish, or animals into a water body unless they came out of that water body and empty unwanted bait in the trash.

These steps are not only suggestions; they are law.  It is illegal to possess or transport prohibited aquatic invasive species in Iowa.  It is also illegal to transport any aquatic plants on water-related equipment.  Boaters must drain all water from boats and equipment before leaving a water access and must keep drain plugs removed or opened during transport.  It is also illegal to introduce any live fish, except for hooked bait, into public waters.

Signs are posted at public accesses to remind boaters to stop aquatic hitchhikers and to identify infested waters. More information about aquatic invasive species and a list of infested waters can be found in the 2014 Iowa Fishing Regulations booklet or online.