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laws and regulations

The discovery of zebra mussels in Lake Sharpe and Lake Francis Case in the summer of 2019 was “a game-changer” for the fight against invasive species across South Dakota. Throughout this fight, aquatic invasive species (AIS) regulations have been created and adopted to prevent the spread of this species. Find out what you can do to make sure you are following all the regulations and doing your part to combat invasive species in South Dakota.

General Regulations

CLEAN. DRAIN.DRY EVERY TIME!

What species are classified as “aquatic invasive species” in South Dakota?

Fish

Plants

Invertebrates

What lakes are designated as “containment waters” and have zebra mussels present?

What is the “Drain Plug Rule”?

Except for emergency response boats, all trailered boats shall have all drain plugs, bailers, valves or other devices used to control the drainage of water opened or removed, except while in a boat ramp parking area or while being launched or loaded.

UNLESS YOU’RE LOADING, LAUNCHING OR ON THE WATER, All PLUGS MUST BE OUT

When am I required to decontaminate?
1. Whenever AIS are present on your watercraft
2. After using a containment water and:

Boats registered in a local boat registry may be exempt from decontamination requirements under certain conditions, as provided in the provisions of the registry.

What is a local boat registry?

The department may create registries of local boats for each containment water that includes specific requirements for registration, documentation, possession and display of special permits issued, use, transportation, storage, and decontamination of registered boats.

What do I need to know about watercraft inspections?

All boats traveling through an AIS checkpoint are required to stop. Once stopped, a department representative will conduct a risk assessment. If the vessel meets multiple risk factors, a more thorough risk assessment will be completed.

Inspections may include:

If any organisms or organic material that may harbor aquatic invasive species are found or suspected to be present as a result of the inspection, the department may decontaminate the watercraft or order its decontamination.

Am I allowed to transport my fish or bait in lake/river water back to my home, cabin or camper?

No, you may not transport fish or aquatic bait in water obtained from a lake, river, or stream except when in a boat ramp parking area. Shore anglers may not transport fish or aquatic bait away from the shoreline in water from a lake river or stream.

If you use a floating minnow bucket, drain all the water out of it before placing it back in a bucket of treated domestic water.

What do I do if I catch an invasive species? Is it illegal for me to release the species back into the water?

If you catch what you believe is an invasive species, please take a picture of it and send the picture to wildinfo@state.sd.us. Dead fish and crayfish may be transported so you can save the specimen and contact your local Game, Fish and Parks office or conservation officer.


If you catch an invasive species, such as silver or bighead carp, you may release it back into the water from which it was caught, or harvest it and properly dispose of it.


All fish shot using a speargun, crossbow, or bow and arrow, or speared with a surface spear, must be harvested and disposed of properly.


It is illegal to dispose of fish carcasses or cleanings on shorelines. This includes all carp species. Carp may be released into the water from which they were caught or transported away from the area once dead.

Always remember the following:

    1. Drain Plugs: Boaters and anglers are required to open or remove all drain plugs or similar devices, except when in a boat ramp parking area or when a boat is being launched, loaded or on the water.
      1. What this means: Plugs have to be pulled when a boat is not on the water, even if it is in storage. Boaters and anglers may keep fish or bait in a livewell while transporting the boat from the water body to a cleaning station only if it is located within the boat ramp parking area.
    1. Transporting Bait or Fish: Bait and fish may not be transported away from a boat ramp or the shore in water taken from a lake, river or stream except while in route to a fish cleaning station located within the parking area. All lake, river and stream water must be drained prior to leaving the fish cleaning station.
      1. What this means: If anglers wish to transport their aquatic bait and fish in water,  it can only be transported in domestic water (tap water, well water, bottled water, ice). Most domestic water must be treated to remove chlorine prior to putting fish in it. However, when leaving a water body, boaters and shore anglers can wait until they reach a fish cleaning station to put their bait in domestic water if that fishing cleaning station is located within the boat ramp parking area.

TRANSPORTING FISH

Anglers have three options for transporting whole fish for cleaning at home or at a cleaning station that is not within the boat ramp parking area.

    1. In a container (not a part of the boat), that is filled with domestic water (tap water, well water, bottled water, ice).
    2. On ice - in a cooler or pull the plug on their livewell and fill it with ice (plug must remain out).
    3. Dry - put fish in an empty bucket or pull the livewell plug before leaving the boat ramp and let it drain when traveling.

MINNOW USAGE AND TRANSPORT

Aquatic bait may only be transported away from a waterbody in domestic water (tap water, well water, bottled water, ice). Most domestic water must be treated to remove chlorine prior to putting fish in it.


Boat anglers can wait until they reach a fish cleaning station to put their bait in domestic water only if that fish cleaning station is located within the boat ramp parking area. They can dump out the lake water and fill their bait bucket up with water from the cleaning station or water they brought with them.


A shore angler can do the same if they are able to access the domestic water source at a fish cleaning station that is a part of a boat ramp parking area or if they bring domestic water with them.

RE-USING MINNOWS
Minnows may be used in multiple lakes as long as they are transported between lakes in domestic water. Lake, river or stream water must be drained before leaving the boat ramp parking area or your shore fishing location.


DISPOSING OF UNUSED MINNOWS
Unused minnows should be poured into the fish grinder at a cleaning station or drained, bagged and disposed of in a trash container. It is a violation of state law to dump unused minnows into a water body.


NO CLEANING STATION AVAILABLE
If there is not a cleaning station located within the boat ramp parking area, drain plugs must be opened and bait containers must be free of lake water before leaving the boat ramp parking area.


If a cleaning station is closed for any reason, do not climb the fence or leave fish cleanings in the grinder. Failure to properly dispose of fish carcasses is littering.