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Mar 31, 2014 03:17 PM EDT

Aquatic Invasive Species Transport Down In Minnesota, According To State Report, But Still Too High

The number of Minnesotan boaters transporting aquatic invasive species (AIS) declined from 31 percent to 20 percent since 2012, as measured by citations written, Montevideo American News reported.

With the ice and snow melting (besides the Northeast's recent flurry) and boating season about to begin, the Department of Natural Resources publishes its report now as a reminder for boats to follow regulations, which include  cleaning boats and equipment to weed out unwanted species such as zebra mussels and veligers (the planktonic larvae of sea snails).

The report is even more encouraging considering the DNR increased their border checks by 62 percent since 2011, meaning they're inspecting more boats and still finding less perpetrators.

Of course, twenty percent is still a high rate, as Lt. Col. Rodmen Smith, DNR Enforcement Division assistant director, pointed out.

"The decrease is good news, but we have a long way to go," Smith told Montevideo. "We need to think zero. Far too many people are still not following the law. Boaters and anglers are legally required to clean boats and equipment and drain all water to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species."

In addition to more inspections, the DNR has worked with local lake service providers to certify them in AIS-preventing techniques and is in talks with boat manufacturers on ways to drain water more effectively, thus eliminating the spread of potential invasives, according to Montevideo.

"The public is our first line of defense against AIS," said Ann Pierce, DNR section manager. "It only takes a few minutes to make sure your boat and equipment are cleaned, all water is drained and drain plugs are removed before leaving the water access. This truly is an example of an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure." 

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