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6 things to know to stop invaders from hitchhiking on your boat

Wisconsin DNR

There are more than 11,000 inland lakes in Michigan, and a lot of us love to take boats out on them. But invasive species also like to catch a ride on boats, and that’s a major way they get from one lake to another.

You might see people wearing blue t-shirts when you go to a boat launch this summer. They’re with the program Clean Boats Clean Waters, and they want to show you a few things about where invasive species like to hide out.

Jo Latimore is the technical consultant for the program. She says a lot of the invasive species that are transported on boating equipment get attached during launching and bringing the boat out of the water.

"So we look at the trailer first, and we look at the axles, around the lights on the trailer, the wheels, around the license plate actually is a good place for invasive species to attach. And then on the boats themselves, of course the motor, the propeller on the motor," says Latimore.

She says if you're keeping your catch alive in a tank, there might be more than just fish in that water.

6 things to know about how to clean your boat:

  1. Inspect and remove any visible mud, plants, fish or animals before transporting your recreational equipment.
  2. Drain water from your boat, motor, trailer and live wells
  3. Dry equipment for at least five days
  4. Dispose of unwanted live bait in the trash
  5. Wipe down your fishing tackle and clean your boat. You can use a boat wash station that are available at some boat launches in Michigan or you can use a dilute bleach solution (10% bleach), which will kill any critters left on there.
  6. Know the law: Michigan laws prohibit placing a boat, trailer, or other boating equipment into Michigan waters with plant material attached. State law also prohibits possessing or transporting any live transgenic (genetically engineered) organisms, several live non-native fish and many non-native aquatic plants, fragments and seeds as well as hybrids and genetically engineered variants.
Credit Clean Boats Clean Waters

Rebecca Williams is senior editor in the newsroom, where she edits stories and helps guide news coverage.