COOK COUNTY CONNECTIONS Aquatic Invasive Species
By: Amanda Weberg, AIS Coordinator
COOK COUNTRY, MINNESOTA April 30, 2022 (LSNews) What are aquatic invasive species? At a basic level, aquatic invasive species (AIS) are living things dwelling in water that are not native to Minnesota. The impacts of AIS vary; however, they all cause problems. Some species cause damage to ecosystems, others harm the economy and human health, or all the above.
There are many pathways for AIS to be introduced and spread. Most often AIS are unknowingly carried in or on trailered recreational watercraft and fishing equipment. Movement of boat lifts, docks, waders, and waterfowl hunting gear are also potential pathways of spread for invasive plants and invertebrates. Connected waterways can be conduits for AIS to arrive without human assistance once they have been introduced. Example: Invasive rusty crayfish have traveled from Pike Lake to Bigsby Lake to Caribou Lake and from Hungry Jack Lake to W. Bearskin Lake to Duncan Lake on their own six legs.
Although nearly all AIS news is negative, there is hope. Cook County has few inland waterbody infestations (96% AIS free) compared to the rest of the State (92% AIS free); the AIS program actively works towards preventing AIS infestations. This is best accomplished by individuals changing their behavior to reflect sustainable AIS prevention habits.
(Photo Caption: Rusty crayfish are not native to Cook County lakes. They are identified by their rusty spots on the sides of the body, and the black tips on their claws.)
Anglers and water recreation users are best reached for education through one-on-one contact. We use Minnesota’s watercraft inspection program created by the MNDNR. Friendly Cook County watercraft inspectors are stationed throughout the county at public landings during the summer. You might even interact with a sheriff’s deputy watercraft inspector on your fishing day. Law enforcement watercraft inspections are a key component to maintaining effective AIS compliance. Inspectors are there to help you learn and follow the AIS prevention methods when entering and exiting the water. They will ask you a few questions and make sure the watercraft is clear from plants and mud, and that the plugs are out. If you are saving live bait, they will remind you to empty lake water from the container and transfer to tap water brought in advance. Many inspectors store tap water in their vehicle to assist in keeping bait. Remember: It is illegal to transport lake or river water.
With or without ice on our lakes, the Minnesota fishing opener is only a few weekends away. Preventing invasive species from invading is a never-ending process and organisms do not consider county boundaries. Those who visit or live in Cook County are fortunate to experience this wondrous part of the earth. With a few behavior changes at the water, we can all keep the Northwoods’ outdoors pristine for our children’s grandchildren.
Remember CD3: Clean. Drain. Dry. Dispose.
Clean and remove all plants, mud, and debris from boats, trailers, and gear
Drain all water from boat, live/bait wells, and onboard ballast tanks
Dry or rinse all gear and equipment thoroughly before moving to other waters
Dispose unwanted live bait in the trash
If you are interested in being involved in the wonderful world of AIS prevention, the AIS advisory committee is searching for new members. Contact [email protected]
Find anything weird living or growing in lakes or rivers? Soil and Water Conversation District wants to hear about it. 218-387-3648.
Spread the word, not the species.
County Connections is a column on timely topics and service information from your Cook County government. Cook County – Supporting Community Through Quality Public Service
By: Amanda Weberg, AIS Coordinator
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About Cook County Minnesota
Cook County is at the tip of Minnesota's Arrowhead region in the remote northeastern part of the state, stretching from the shores of Lake Superior to the US-Canada border. By land it borders Ontario, Canada to the north, and Lake County, MN to the west. The highest point in Minnesota, Eagle Mountain is 2,301 feet and the highest lake, Total Area equals 3,339.72 sq miles
Cook County is home to three national protected areas:
Grand Portage National Monument
Superior National Forest
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
Cook County include:
Grand Marais Lutsen Mountains
Gunflint Trail Superior Hiking Trail
Fall Colors Minnesota
The views expressed in this opinion article or photos are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by Lake Superior News / Lake Superior Media.