Contact information
For information on Lakes in Wisconsin, contact:
Wisconsin DNR Lakes
Division of Water
Bureau of Water Quality
Aquatic Invasive Species Contacts

Clean Boats, Clean Waters - Waterfowl AIS Outreach

Each fall since 2016, teams of DNR staff, statewide Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Partners and volunteers are stationed at access points across the state for Waterfowl Hunter AIS Outreach to talk to hunters about AIS Prevention. Locations include, the Mead Wildlife Area, Big Muskego, Horicon Marsh, smaller hunting areas in multiple counties, and along the Mississippi River.

Modeled after the successful Clean Boats Clean Waters (CBCW) program, boat inspectors/educators conduct a hunting version of the CBCW survey and talk with hunters about specific aspects of duck hunting that risk AIS movement. Mud, for example, can hide seeds, the bulbils of starry stonewort, and the eggs or larvae of tiny invaders, such as spiny waterfleas. Of particular concern to the hunters is the Faucet snail. These snails carry intestinal flukes that can kill ducks if they eat them.

Decoys with cracks or unnoticed holes can let water seep in that could carry tiny organisms, such as the larvae of invasive snails and clams. Before hunting, drilling a small hole in the tip of the tail and at the tip of the bill, let you easily drain a decoy when removing it from the water. After hunting, also make sure to remove any mud and vegetation on their posts, keels, or anchors before you leave the area.

Dogs’ fur and vests can hide mud, seeds and even small snails. A jug or two of clean water, brushes and lint rollers are good tools to have in your cleaning arsenal.

Many access points now have wader/boot cleaning stations with attached, large roller brushers thanks to the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association, the River Alliance of Wisconsin, and other partners. It also pays to carry along a large stiff brush, that you can use on trailers and boats and to have a smaller brush on hand for the tread of your boots. A grabbing tool for reaching under a boat on a trailer can make removing plants much easier. The tiny plants watermeal and duckweed, that seem to stick to everything, do not need to be thoroughly removed.

Blinds are a special concern for AIS Prevention. They can hide or even be made from invasive species. It’s not uncommon to find a patch of non-native phragmites (AKA common reed) right next to a hunting site and nowhere else in a wetland. It’s simply best to avoid phragmites, regardless of it being the native or non-native species. The two are very difficult to tell apart. Also, non-native phragmites is restricted in some counties and prohibited in others. A county list can be found here. If you do opt for using natural materials, the law states that you can only use dead stems, with no seed heads or roots attached.

Just a few minutes of preventative action can protect our hunting tradition for generations to come. Before launching into and leaving a water body, hunters should:

   • Inspect waders, boats, trailers, motors and hunting equipment, including boots, push poles, blinds, and dogs

   • Remove all plants, animals, and mud

   • Drain all water from decoys, boats, motors, live wells and other hunting equipment

   • Never move plants or live fish away from a water body

For more information about aquatic invasive species, including where they are prohibited and restricted in Wisconsin, search dnr.wi.gov for keyword "invasives."

DNR staff and coordinators for the AIS Partnership are often available to provide presentations and other outreach at hunt club meetings and events. They will also take reports of new AIS found. Find your regional coordinator by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "Aquatic Invasive Species Contacts."