Did you know that aquatic invasive species (AIS) can still be spread even during the winter? You may not think so when ice fishing or recreating on the ice, but if proper prevention measures aren’t taken, AIS can spread rapidly and eventually threaten the quality of boating, fishing, and other recreational activities on lakes and rivers. Certain AIS found in Lake Minnetonka such as curly-leaf pondweed and Eurasian watermilfoil remain hardy in winter. Other AIS threats to Lake Minnetonka and other waterbodies may have reproductive parts such as the bulbils from Starry stonewort or larvae of snails and mussels that can be spread in the mud and sediment.
Some steps to prevent the winter spread of AIS are provided below. Anglers and other people should always practice the following when stepping onto or when leaving the ice:
- Inspect machinery and equipment such as ice augers, snowmobiles and fishing equipment for attached aquatic plants, animals or mud.
- Remove all attached plants or animals from machinery and equipment.
- Drain all water from livewells, buckets and other equipment.
- Never move live fish away from a waterbody.
- Dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.
Spending a few minutes practicing these five simple tips can help preserve and protect waterways for generations to come. Learn about the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and UW Extension education initiative to help prevent winter spread of AIS in their December 2021 press release,