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DNR now enforcing 'pull the plug' law to halt spread of invasive species

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources worker Larry Hanson, left, works Saturday at the boat landing on Green Lake in Spicer as part of the "Pick it or Ticket'' campaign to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species. Hanson demonstrated to boat owner Bill Shulund, of Spicer, how to inspect and clean his boat. A new law took effect July 1, which requires drain plug removal and draining of water by boat owners before leaving any lake or river in Minnesota. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)

SPICER -- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officers were at the Green Lake public access in Spicer and other lakes around Minnesota on Saturday morning as part of the "Pick it or Ticket'' campaign to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Beginning this past holiday weekend, DNR conservation officers and watercraft inspectors started enforcing the invasive species law that went into effect on July 1. Officers will continue to educate the public about the new "pull the plug'' law that requires boaters to remove the plug and drain water before leaving any lake and river in Minnesota.

Rep. Al Juhnke, DFL-Willmar, was a bill co-author on behalf of area lake associations.

"This is very important as we try to stop the spread of (aquatic invasive species) in our lakes,'' said Juhnke in a news release. "In particular, zebra mussel is as near as the Alexandria lakes.''

Larry Kramka, DNR assistant commissioner, said lakes and rivers are too important to take for granted. He said boaters need to be accountable and personally responsible to prevent the further spread of aquatic invasive species.

The water draining law is intended to help prevent the spread of fish diseases such as VHS, and invasive species such as zebra mussels and spiny water fleas that cannot be seen when free floating in the water in early life stages.

The law requires boaters to:

- Remove aquatic plants and zebra mussels from boats and trailers.

- Drain all water, including pulling the drain plug, open water draining devises, and draining bilges and live wells.

- Drain bait buckets when exiting lakes that have been designated as infested with spiny water flea or zebra mussels. Anglers can keep unused bait when leaving infested waters if they replace the water with tap or spring water.

Enforcement efforts include an increased presence at public water accesses at infested lakes and rivers where officers will look closely for violators who could face fines from $50 up to $1,000.