With hunting season under way, the Department of Natural Resources reminds waterfowl hunters to take precaution against spreading aquatic invasive species. Without the proper precautions, invasive species, such as purple loosestrife, zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil and faucet snails, can be transported in boats, decoys or blind material.

Invasive species can damage habitat for waterfowl, fish and other wildlife and can even cause waterfowl die-offs.

For example, faucet snails can carry parasites that can kill thousands of ducks.

“After hunting, take a few minutes to clean plants and mud and drain water from duck boats, decoys, decoy lines, waders and push poles,” said Eric Katzenmeyer, DNR invasive species specialist. “It’s the key to avoiding the spread of aquatic invasive species in waterfowl habitat.”

The DNR has the following recommendations to help slow the spread of aquatic invasive species:

• Use elliptical, bulb-shaped or strap decoy anchors. 

• Drain water, and remove all plants and animals from boats and equipment.

• Remove all plants and animals from anchor lines and blind materials.

• Check compartments or storage in boats or kayaks that aren’t used for the rest of the year.

Waterfowl hunters should also remember that they must cut cattails or other plants above the water line when using them as camouflage for boats or blinds, if they want to move them from lake to lake.

The DNR is also reminding trappers to clean equipment before moving to another body of water.

“Trappers of muskrats and other fur bearers should also keep the ‘Clean in-Clean out’ mantra in mind,” said DNR invasive species specialist Tim Plude. “All traps, lines, boots and waders should be cleaned.”

To kill or remove invasive species seeds or young zebra mussels that are difficult to see, the DNR recommends that boaters use a high-pressure spray or a hot water rinse before launching into another water body (120 degrees for at least two minutes or 140 degrees for at least 10 seconds). Air drying can also be effective but may require more time due to cooler weather.

Learn more on the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

– Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources