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The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is encouraging all boaters and anglers to check for unwanted hitchhikers on their boats and equipment this Fourth of July to help protect Iowa lakes and streams.
Aquatic invasive species, everything from zebra mussels to Eurasian watermilfoil, move from one waterbody to another by hitchhiking on boats, in bait buckets and on other equipment used in the water.
“Aquatic invasive species can create serious problems for Iowa waters by reducing native species and making lakes and rivers unusable for boaters, anglers and swimmers," said Kim Bogenschutz, aquatic invasive species coordinator for the Iowa DNR.
These invasive species often grow quickly and spread fast when brought to new lake or stream due to lack of natural controls.
“Boaters and anglers can help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species to new waterbodies by cleaning, draining and drying their boat and equipment after each time on the water,” said Bogenschutz.
It is illegal to possess or transport prohibited aquatic invasive species or to transport any aquatic plants on water-related equipment in Iowa. Signs posted at public accesses remind boaters to stop aquatic hitchhikers and identify infested waters.
Boaters must also 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.
Find more information about aquatic invasive species and a list of infested waters in the 2018 Iowa Fishing Regulations booklet.