DNR wardens warn boaters of invasive species

A sign instructs boaters on clean boating habits.

MANITOWOC - Rusty crayfish and curly-leaf pondweed are just a couple of names of aquatic invasive species you can find throughout the waters of Manitowoc County.

The DNR is trying to keep the unwanted plants and animals from spreading by patrolling local boat launches Labor Day weekend.

As Peter Vanden Wymelenberg pulls his boat out of the water, there's one more thing he has to do before he leaves.

"All of the boat landings usually always have equipment to clean off your boats," said Peter Vanden Wymelenberg.

As lake water begins to drip onto the road, Vanden Wymelenberg starts to spray a mixture of water and bleach onto his boat.

"In the end of the season in August you'll have algae in a lot of the lakes. It is important do that, to scrub it off," Vanden Wymelenberg said.

Besides the green algae that's blanketing a portion of the lake, there's something else below the surface that DNR wardens want to keep from spreading.

At Harp Lake the invasive species known as Eurasian watermilfoil has now become a part of the lake. As it grows, it keeps native plants from thriving.

"Northern watermilfoil which is native to Wisconsin and the Eurasian watermilfoil invasive. If you walk around the edge of the lake you can find it floating. It's a waterbed based plant and grows from the bottom," said Joseph Wayland, DNR conservation warden recruit.

An aquatic invasive species or AIS can be found throughout the state.

Among 35 bodies of water in Manitowoc County there are at least seven plants and animals that don't belong.

"If you go from lake to lake you can transmit an AIS that's in this lake to another lake that may not have that or it may be a clean lake," Wayland said.

Harpt Lake has a large board with red and white lettering to help guide boaters on how to keep their boats clean.

"If they pull their boat out and decide they don't want to remove the AIS off their boat, they could be given several different tickets," Wayland said.

Those citations can come with a hefty fine.

If you're caught transferring invasive species you can be charged $295 with a maximum penalty of about $390.

If you’re interested in learning more about invasive species click here.