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Wisconsin boaters and anglers are doing more to halt the spread of aquatic invasive species

Wisconsin boaters and anglers seem to be doing a better job of following rules aimed at curbing the spread of aquatic invasive species, according to the results of UW-Madison surveys taken in 2009 and 2010.

Researchers found that 87 percent of boaters and anglers surveyed in 2010 said they removed plants from their boat before leaving the
landing, compared to 76 percent in 2009. Removing plants can help
prevent the spread of aquatic invasive plants such as Eurasian water
milfoil and curly-leaf pondweed to new, uninfected lakes.

The researchers also found more compliance with rules aimed at
preventing the spread of diseases such as viral hemorrhagic septicemia
and other aquatic invasives. In 2010, 90 percent of anglers drained
the water from their boats (up from 81 percent in 2009), while 75
percent did not move live fish (up from 69 percent), and 47 percent
did not add water to their bait containers (up from 35 percent).

The increased compliance is related both to boaters’ increased
awareness of how invasive species can damage Wisconsin’s fisheries and
to their desire to avoid getting a ticket for breaking the law,
according to assistant professor Bret Shaw and associate professor
Dominque Brossard of the UW-Madison Department of Life Sciences
Communication.

While the results suggest that ongoing efforts to educate boaters and
anglers about aquatic invasive species are paying off, there is room
for improvement, they add.

“It only takes one boater or angler to spread aquatic invasive
species,” Brossard points out.

Brossard, Shaw and graduate student Kajsa Dalrymple conducted the
surveys of roughly 500 people in partnership with the Wisconsin
Department of Natural Resources and UW Extension.