MINNEAPOLIS (AP/WCCO) — The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says too many boaters are breaking state laws intended to make it harder for invasive species to spread in lakes and rivers.
The DNR says it’s ramping up enforcement this weekend as a result.
DNR officials say they have found more than 1,300 boaters at public access points with aquatic invasive species out of 78,000 inspections so far this year.
They say that’s way too many considering how badly high water levels have been and how often people have been banned from even taking boats out.
Minnesota has 175 bodies of water with zebra mussels, perhaps the biggest concern when it comes to aquatic invasive species. While this is only one percent of Minnesota bodies of water, it is still of major concern because of the size of the waters they have been found on, such as Lake Minnetonka.
DNR enforcement manager Capt. Greg Salo says conservation officers have issued 169 tickets and 375 warnings for violations of aquatic invasive species laws. Salo says officers have followed up with nearly 100 people after watercraft inspectors found their boats were unwitting carriers for zebra mussels.
DNR officials say the invasive species harm the ecosystem and can be transported very easily when people don’t follow basic rules.
Officials say these laws have been in the books 15 years and boaters should know better, yet a quarter of boaters inspected are violating some rules.
Salo says the violation rate at check stations is running at 26 percent — which he calls “way too high.” He says the most common violation is people failing to pull their boat plug and keep it out while transporting their boats.
Boaters are inspected at both check points and access points in the water. Check points are along the road before boaters get to the water access area. There are nine checkpoints around the state.
The fine for violating any of the rules range from $100 to $500.
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