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As summer approaches, boats will be out in large numbers, traveling from lake to lake to enjoy a summer on the water. The Iowa DNR is reminding boaters and anglers to take a minute and check their boats for any unwanted hitchhikers traveling along for the ride.

Zebra mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil are two aquatic invasive species that are turning up in Iowa by hitchhiking on boats, in bait buckets, and with other equipment used in the water.

Bighead and silver carp are aquatic invasive species that have been spreading on their own throughout Iowa rivers. These aquatic invaders can create serious problems when they become established in our waters.

"Public awareness and action are keys to preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species," said Kim Bogenschutz, aquatic invasive species program coordinator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. "Boaters and anglers can unintentionally transport aquatic hitchhikers if they do not take the proper precautions to prevent their spread - clean, drain, dry."

-- CLEAN any plants, animals, or mud from boat and equipment before leaving a waterbody.

-- DRAIN water from all equipment (motor, live well, bilge, transom well) before leaving a waterbody.

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-- DRY anything that comes into contact with water (boats, trailers, equipment, boots, clothing, dogs). Before transporting to another waterbody either:

Spray your boat and trailer with hot, high-pressure water; or

dry your boat and equipment for at least 5 days.

Never release plants, fish, or animals into a water body unless they came out of that water body and empty unwanted bait in the trash.

It is illegal to possess or transport prohibited aquatic invasive species in Iowa. It is also illegal to introduce any live fish, except for hooked bait, into public waters. Signs are posted at public accesses to remind boaters to stop aquatic hitchhikers and to identify infested waters.

More information about aquatic invasive species and a list of infested waters can be found in the 2011 Iowa Fishing Regulations booklet.

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