North Dakota state officials spreading awareness of Aquatic Nuisance Species Awareness Week to prevent travel of ecosystem threats across state

Courtesy: North Dakota Game and Fish Department
Courtesy: North Dakota Game and Fish Department

(Bismarck, ND) -- North Dakota's Game and Fish Department is calling on boaters, anglers, and other watercraft users to protect waterways across the state by cleaning their equipment.

ND Game and Fish experts, along with the North Dakota Office of the Governor, are proclaiming this week as "Aquatic Nuisance Species Awareness Week." The message comes to remind outdoor enthusiasts on waterways to pull drain plugs, dry any remaining water, and inspect boats and equipment that enter and leave waterways in the state. Several lakes can carry species that can cause heavy damage to new ecosystems ecosystems.

"We have eight aquatic nuisance species in North Dakota, but we have more here on our doorstep, "said Ben Holen, A North Dakota Game and Fish Aquatic Nuisance Species Coordinator. "Of the species in North Dakota, they are mostly limited in their range."

One example is the Zebra Muscle, a bivalve that not only chokes out native species in lakes it occurs, but also can damage and strain water based infrastructure built by local towns and communities. Holen says a female Zebra Muscle can lay up to a million eggs per year, which can cause an exponential growth in their population size year after year. 

"After an initial introduction happens, two [to] three years down the line you can have Zebra Muscles on every hard surface in a lake, "said Holen.

North Dakota Game and Fish department officials say the best way to ensure the safety of local waterways is to remind outdoor enthusiasts to take precautions when taking their equipment to different lakes and waterways. Holen says people should be talking to neighbors, friends, other boaters, and others who are at the boat dock to ensure the invasive species cannot travel between ecosystems and lakes. 

“As spring fishing and boating seasons heat up, we like to highlight preventative steps recreationists can take to stop the spread of ANS into our waterways,” says North Dakota Department of Commerce Outdoor Recreation Manager Mike Jensen.

Original Air Date: 
Thursday, May 18, 2023