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Check docks and equipment for invasive species before storing for the winter

  • 10/10/2023 12:16:00 PM
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The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds lake property owners to check their boat and trailers, and docks and lifts, for aquatic invasive species before storing them for the winter.

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. They can create serious problems for Iowa waters and negatively impact the quality of outdoor recreation experiences.

“Fall is a great time for lake property owners to check their boats, docks and lifts for new infestations of aquatic invasive species like zebra mussels,”  said Kim Bogenschutz, aquatic invasive species coordinator for the Iowa DNR. “As you bring each item out of the water, visually inspect areas that have been submerged for months. Touch smooth surfaces to check for juvenile zebra mussels that feel like sandpaper when you run your hand over a surface they've attached themselves to and are often invisible to the human eye.”

Aquatic invasive species often grow quickly and spread fast when brought to a new lake or stream due to lack of natural controls.

How to Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species

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

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.

Iowa law also requires boaters to drain all water from boats and equipment before they leave a water access and to keep drain plugs removed or opened during transport. It is also illegal to introduce any live fish, except for hooked bait, into public waters.

Learn more about aquatic invasive species, including a list of infested waters in the current Iowa Fishing Regulations or at