EAU CLAIRE (WEAU) Boaters and anglers at nearly 90 Wisconsin lakes and rivers are being greeted at boat landings by Department of Natural Resources wardens this weekend.
The goal of the boat landing blitz is to stop the spread of invasive species, says the DNR.
The DNR says the invasive species with nasty names like Asian Carp, Eurasian Water Milfoil, Rusty Crawfish and Zebra Muscles, hitched a ride to the U.S. on freighters traveling from Europe and Asia.
The DNR says the species made its way from the ocean into the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, where they are now reeking havoc on natural aquatic habitats.
WEAU 13 News spoke to DNR Deputy Conservation Warden Justin Wershofen on Saturday at the boat launch to the Chippewa River in Eau Claire’s Riverview Park.
Wershofen is one of dozens of wardens checking boats around the state this weekend.
“We’re making sure everyone has a clean boat and a dry boat when they’re done recreating for the day, making sure no one is transporting any plants or fish or aquatic organisms across our roadways,” Wershofen said.
Wershofen said the invasion is also threatening Wisconsin’s economy.
“The invasives tend to take over an area very quickly and reduce the amount of water that can be recreated, whether it be fishing or general boating,” Wershofen said.
And although Asian Carp hasn’t swum up into the Chippewa Valley yet, the threat looms with the fish already being spotted in the Mississippi River.
“We always have to control it before it gets out of hand. But we’re at a risk because of our close proximity to the Mississippi. We do have a lot of boat travelers between our bodies of water from the Mississippi,” Wershofen said.
Claire Foltz of Eau Claire said she’s helped clean up the invaders on Lake Wissota and wishes other boaters would take the threat more seriously.
“I think people need to be more diligent about cleaning their boats when they get out of the water. I think some people are aware of it. I hope everyone cares about it,” Foltz said.
Wershofen said boaters can get fined more than $200 for transporting or launching a boat with invasive species on it.