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Aquatic invasive species: A threat below the ice

Another season of ice fishing is here and the battle continues with aquatic invasive species.

Many local anglers are aware of the basic steps they should take to clean their boat to prevent spreading to another lake or river. However, some ice anglers may not realize the invaders are a threat during the ice fishing season too.

Aquatic invasive species specialist Deborah Seiler from the UW Extension says, "It's easy to discount the AIS prevention steps in winter when there's no boat to clean, but all the usual aquatic hitchhikers are still present."

Aquatic invasive species like zebra mussels, Eurasian water-milfoil, and Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia, or VHS, may still be transported from one water body to another. To prevent the spread of AIS, Wisconsin law now requires that anglers:

* Inspect ice fishing equipment and

* Remove any attached aquatic plants or animals before and after use on ice.

* Drain all water from equipment including containers with fish when leaving the ice.

* Don't move live fish away from a water body.

* Buy minnows from a Wisconsin bait dealer and use leftover minnows only under certain conditions.

Bait laws state that leftover minnows can be taken away from any state water and used again on that same water. Leftover minnows may also be used on other waters only if no lake or river water, or other fish were added to their container. Two gallons of water are allowed for transporting minnows.

Visit www.dnr.wi.gov/fish/regulations/2011/

hookline.html for more information on fishing regulations and bait laws.

Ice anglers are an important part of the fight against aquatic invasive species, and they are taking action to protect the lakes and rivers they love. As one local ice fisherman put it, "if we don't step up and do our part, our pristine lakes won't be the same for our children and grandchildren."

Carrie Sanda is the Douglas County Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator and can be reached at csanda@uwsuper.edu or (715) 394-8525.

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