The Minnesota DNR says 20 percent of boaters screened in the state so far this spring have an aquatic invasive species violation.
"This rate is unacceptable," said Maj. Phil Meier, DNR enforcement division operations manager. "The majority of violations could have been avoided if people had taken the time to change their routine when leaving lakes and rivers, and comply with (aquatic invasive species) laws."
Under Minnesota law, it is illegal to transport invasive aquatic plants and animals, as well as water, from lakes and rivers infested with zebra mussels and spiny waterfleas. Violators could face fines up to $500. Some penalty amounts will double beginning July 1.
Through June 6, DNR officers have dedicated nearly 3,200 hours to invasive species enforcement, making contact with more than 20,000 people for citations, warnings or education.
ENFORCEMENT STATS (THROUGH JUNE 6)
193 criminal citations
463 civil citations
975 written warnings
267 verbal warnings
"We hope these citations, warnings and public contacts will continue to raise awareness that this state looks at invasive species very seriously," Meier said. "We will enforce the rules."
Extra patrols started May 12 and will continue through the summer.
DO YOUR PART
Drain bait buckets, bilges and live wells before leaving any water access.
Remove aquatic plants from boats and trailers to prevent the spread of invasive species.
Pull the plug on your boat and drain all water when leaving all waters of the state.
Keep the drain plug out while transporting water-related equipment on roadways.