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COMMENTS BY KIM: Aquatic Nuisance Species season

Help stop the spread

The open water season is upon us. Despite cold water temperatures and recent less than desirable daytime high air temperatures, there’s already been quite a few eager fishermen on various bodies of water in the state. Good for them.

From what I’ve heard from those who should know such things, the northern pike spawn was a bit earlier than usual this year. The walleye spawn is getting close, if not already underway in some places. Fishermen know the routine well, and plan their fishing excursions accordingly.

Following one of the shortest ice covered seasons in history, fisherman-types can’t help but hope for an early arrival of warm temperatures and cooperative fish. Maybe this will result in more days on the water than in most years too.

Of course, those who use watercraft for things other than fishing – pleasure boating, jet skis and the like, are probably hoping for an early warm-up too so they can get a few extra days of enjoyment on the water out of 2021. With a long-range weather forecast leaning toward warmer than usual temperatures all the way into August, I expect more than the normal busy activity on many of our lakes.

That brings me to the subject of this column, something that I intend to write more about in the next week or two – Aquatic Nuisance Species, or ANS. More boats and watercraft and more days on the water means an increased chance of ANS being introduced into lakes that are currently free of ANS, such as zebra mussels, curlyleaf pondweed and other undersireables.

While ANS can be spread in a variety of ways, one way of combating ANS is by being a responsible watercraft operator. Clean, drain, and dry is more than just a saying. It’s an important step to avoid the spread of ANS. Every watercraft operator should take a few extra minutes when coming off the water to do what they can, and should, to help keep ANS at bay.

I’ve fished a few Minnesota lakes, quite nervously, that have known zebra mussel infestations. It’s a lousy feeling and something I try to avoid. Thank goodness there were inspectors and manned hot water cleaning stations near the boat ramp, a process designed to kill any zebra mussels that might have attached to the boat.

Nevertheless, it still bothered me so much that when I towed my boat home I toweled out the live well and let the boat sit in the driveway for a week, another ANS prevention measure. Nobody wants to think they are the person responsible for a new ANS outbreak in any lake.

Now, this year, with the expectation of a longer on-the-water season, it’s more important than ever to take ANS seriously. North Dakota Game and Fish is doing a few things to help raise awareness about ANS too. They’ll have an increased number of inspectors at boat ramps across the state and three cleaning stations positioned at high traffic areas.

One of those is in place at Lake Metigoshe State Park. That lake is ANS free and Game and Fish wants to keep it that way. I’ll have more on that soon.

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