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Drain and clean in between to stop invasive species and protect Wisconsin's waters

Published by Central Office May 22, 2018

Contact(s): Jeanne Scherer, Water Resources Management Specialist, 608-266-0061 OR David Rowe, DNR Fisheries Team Supervisor, 608-275-3282

MADISON - Draining live wells, bait buckets and bilges before leaving a boat launch or fishing access to move on to another one is the message to anglers for the statewide Drain Campaign on June 1-3, 2018. Water left behind can transport fish diseases and aquatic invasive species between lakes, rivers and streams.

This year, it's easier than ever to bring the message to new fishermen of all ages as the Drain Campaign coincides with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Free Fishing Weekend, June 2-3.

Clean Boats, Clean Waters boat inspectors made up of volunteers, regional aquatic invasive species partners and DNR staff will talk with anglers and boaters at launches around the state. At many lakes and river accesses, they will also hand out free icepacks to remind people that icing is the best way to keep fish fresh.

Draining boats and live wells can help prevent the spread of invasive species. - Photo credit: UW-Extension
Draining boat bilges and live wells can help prevent the spread of invasive species.Photo credit: UW-Extension

"To keep our lakes and streams healthy and free of invasive species like zebra mussels, spiny water fleas, or New Zealand mudsnails, it's important not to move water that may contain those little microscopic organisms. Putting your catch on ice not only keeps the fish fresher and tastier, but it means you don't need to worry about moving AIS in your live well or bucket," said David Rowe, DNR fisheries team supervisor.

Fishermen are the best messengers to spread the word to other anglers by modeling prevention steps to those new to the sport as well as to others who don't know the law and reasons behind it. Those who use social media can also spread the word about the importance of draining live wells and other equipment by posting photos and messages using #JustDrainIt.

The following steps are required by law to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species:

To learn more about invasive species and their impacts to Wisconsin's waters and economy, visit the DNR website,, and search "invasives."

Last Revised: Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Contact information

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