MCCOOK COUNTY, S.D. (KELO) — The recent discovery of zebra mussels at Pickerel Lake in northeast South Dakota prompted South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks to conduct watercraft inspections at different locations in the state.
If you’re traveling in South Dakota with a boat, you could come across an inspection station.
“Biggest thing is we need to increase awareness and provide the perception to the public that this is an important situation in South Dakota,” said Evan Meyer, district conservation officer supervisor. “People really respect and cherish the resource that we have within in our waters, so we’re just trying to our best to slow the spread of these zebra mussels.”
Game, Fish, and Parks started conducting watercraft inspections at the beginning of July across South Dakota, and they will last throughout the summer.
“What they can expect if they pull into this checkpoint would be a lot of documentation of where they were last with their vessel, how long ago their vessel was in the water, where they’re heading and a large portion of education to the boat owner in itself,” Meyer said.
A law recently passed to allow for watercraft inspections on any road and highway in the state. Game, Fish and Parks interns and fishery staff look to see whether drain plugs have been pulled and if hulls, live wells and motors are clean and dry. Drivers must stop if they’re pulling boats or other watercraft.
“This is the first time we’ve ever really handled these watercraft inspections, so a lot of people, it’s new to them,” Meyer said. “We’re getting a lot of praise for our actions and how we’re handling this encroachment of these zebra mussels, so we’re getting a very positive response from the public.”
Just ask Iowa fisherman Chuck White, who has been coming to South Dakota to fish for over 30 years. He had his boat inspected this weekend.
“It’s really important,” White said. “I know all the fishermen from Iowa, they’re used to this. If anybody hasn’t been educated, it’s nice to have them go over the rules and make sure that we’re trying to make the best fishing and the best lakes possible, so we don’t have invasive species moving in.”
The Game, Fish and Parks Department has rules regarding aquatic invasive species on its website.