Invasive Species Laws: Fishermen Weigh In

Posted at: 05/24/2013 7:12 PM
Updated at: 05/24/2013 7:22 PM
By: Alan Hoglund

Dan Wilcox has been fishing Island Lake for more than 20 years. This Memorial Day weekend, the St. Paul resident is back with his friend David.

"It's a good lake and it's a fun lake. Even if we don't catch fish, we are fishing," Wilcox said.

He calls Island Lake his "lake of choice" and said his "boat hardly ever touches any other water."

The boat launch was packed Friday with well over a dozen trucks and trailers in the parking lot.

When their time on the lake is over, if they're like Wilcox, they'll be checking for invasive species. They'll drain the water from their boats, and check for plants before pulling away from the shore.

But this weekend they may want to check twice, because the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is stepping up inspections statewide.

The DNR says failure to drain water or remove plants could cost you up to $200. Should zebra mussels attach to your boat and you don't remove them, you could face an even larger $500 fine.

Wilcox called invasive species a big problem. "It is something the DNR probably should have taken care of 30 or 40 years ago," he said.

Wilcox told Eyewitness News that he wants Island Lake to stay in the "pristine" condition that it is in now.

"Responsible fishermen do the right thing and they protect their lakes," he said. "If it helps keep Island Lake clean, then obviously I'm going to do it."

Meanwhile, Don Lenz, of Eagan, is skeptical about the laws and questioned how much good they're doing in preventing invasive species from spreading.

"I follow the rules but don't necessarily think they're going to help so much..."I'm all for the boat inspections but I don't really like the idea of fining people for it."

Last year the DNR said it issued 998 citations and 1,550 written warnings to boaters failing to follow the invasive species laws.