The North Dakota Game and Fish Department spent a record amount of time monitoring the state’s waterways looking for aquatic nuisance species in 2012. Despite these intense efforts only one new infestation was documented – curly leaf pondweed in Lake Elsie in Richland County.
Fred Ryckman, ANS coordinator, said one of the biggest surprises in 2012 was no detection of zebra mussel in the Otter Tail and Red rivers at Wahpeton, where young zebra mussels were found in both 2010 and 2011. However, Ryckman said the recent announcement by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources that adult zebra mussels have become established and continue to move downstream in Minnesota’s Otter Tail drainage is discouraging. “Thankfully we haven’t found any adult zebra mussels anywhere in North Dakota,” Ryckman added. “The news coming from Minnesota emphasizes the need for us to be vigilant in our monitoring efforts and to continue to stress public participation in following ANS regulations.”
Statewide monitoring efforts also indicated known populations of ANS in existing North Dakota water bodies are stable. A few adult silver carp were again observed in the James River below Jamestown Dam, after having moved upstream into the James during extremely high flows in 2011.
This year, Game and Fish continued both an intensive and extensive information and education campaign regarding concerns with ANS, and the need for the public to be fully compliant with existing rules and regulations. In part, these efforts included updating ANS posters and brochures and distributing them to numerous outlets across the state, having a far greater ANS presence at the North Dakota State Fair, increasing the number of water bodies monitored for ANS and continuing to place ANS information signs at all public boat ramps throughout the state.
In addition, game wardens continued to check angler/boater compliance regarding ANS in 2012, and chief warden Robert Timian said the Department’s educational efforts are paying dividends. “Checkpoints were done throughout the year, and boater and angler compliance was good,” Timian said. “However, there are still some individuals who are unaware, or don’t care, how important this issue is. We will continue to have checkpoints and will issue citations to individuals who are in violation of the rules.”