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Aquatic Nuisance Species

Zebra Mussel

Aquatic nuisance species, whether they are animals such as the zebra mussel or plants such as curly-leaf pondweed, threaten fishing, boating, swimming, and other water-based activities. In states where they have become established, ANS have proven expensive to combat and difficult or impossible to control or eradicate. A number of them are already in our waters, but others found in nearby states have yet to arrive. With some simple preventive effort by all of us who use the outdoors, we can reduce or even eliminate their spread to our waters.

ANS Regulations

  1. All aquatic vegetation must be removed from boats, personal watercraft, trailers, and fishing and hunting equipment such as fishing poles, bait buckets, lures, duck decoys, and waders before leaving a body of water. That means "vegetation free" when transporting watercraft and/or equipment away from a boat ramp, landing area or shoreline.
  2. Live aquatic bait or aquatic vegetation may not be transported into North Dakota.
  3. All water must be drained from boats and other watercraft, including bilges, livewells, baitwells and motors before leaving a water body.
  4. All drain plugs that may hold back water must be removed, and water draining devices must be open, on all watercraft and recreational, commercial, and construction equipment bilges and confined spaces, during any out-of-water transport of same.
  5. Anglers may not transport live bait in water away from any Class I ANS infested water, currently Lake LaMoure, Cottonwood Creek downstream from Lake LaMoure, the James River in Dickey County, Lake Ashtabula, the Sheyenne River from Lake Ashtabula downstream to the Red River and the Red River. All water must be drained from bait buckets as anglers leave the shore, or remove their boat from the water. Anglers must properly dispose of unused bait away from the river, as dumping bait in the water or on shore is illegal. In all other waters not infested with Class I ANS species, anglers can transport live bait in water in containers of five (5) gallons or less in volume.


Additional Boat Cleaning Recommendations

  • Clean - Inspect and remove any plants or animals that may be present prior to leaving the immediate access area. If possible, also remove excessive mud that may harbor seeds or organisms. It is illegal to have ANS or vegetation on your equipment when leaving a waterbody or when entering North Dakota. Removed weeds can be discarded along the shore, and/or in trash receptacles (if available in parking lot).
  • Drain - Remove all water from all equipment prior to leaving the immediate access area. Not only is this a regulation, but water can hold microscopic organisms that may grow and damage your equipment over time. Leave drain plugs out and draining devices open during transport into or within North Dakota to avoid a ticket.
  • Dry - Although not required by North Dakota law, it’s a good idea to allow equipment to dry completely, freeze for 48 hours, or decontaminate before using again. In North Dakota, typical drying times average around 7 days in the summer, but can be longer or shorter based on temperature and humidity (the cooler and more humid, the longer the drying time).
    • Decontamination of equipment is not required by North Dakota law, but it is a highly recommended step to further reduce the likelihood of spreading ANS. Find out more about decontamination here.

Places where aquatic nuisance species can hide and hitchhike to new waters (hitch, livewell, mud and water on floor, lines, trailer frame, boat hull, rollers, prop, axles/wheels, boat motor).


Bordering State and Provincial ANS Regulations

More information on bordering state and provincial ANS regulations is available at the sites listed below.

Other Resources

ANS Brochure | ANS Poster (pdfs)