laws and regulations
Aquatic invasive species (AIS) regulations have been created and adopted to prevent the spread of 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.
- You may not possess, transport, sell, purchase, or propagate an aquatic invasive species. For invasive fish and crayfish, only dead specimens may be transported or possessed.
- Exceptions include:
- An employee of a business approved by the department may transport and possess watercraft with AIS for the purpose of watercraft decontamination.
- You must pull your plugs immediately after loading your boat and leave the plugs out until you are putting the boat back on the water.
- Never transport lake or river water away from the access area, including in bait buckets, livewells, coolers or other containers.
- Dispose of unwanted bait in a dumpster, fish grinder, or other appropriate disposal location.
- Immediately after loading your boat, inspect both your boat and trailer for any mud, plants, animals or other debris and remove anything you find.
- Lower your lower unit to remove any residual water left in the motor before leaving the ramp.
CLEAN. DRAIN. DRY. EVERY TIME!
What species are classified as “aquatic invasive species” in South Dakota?
- Black carp, bighead carp, blotched snakehead, bullseye snakehead, common carp, European rudd, giant snakehead, grass carp, northern snakehead, round goby, silver carp, western mosquitofish and white perch.
- Brittle naiad, common reed, curly pondweed, didymo, Eurasian water-milfoil, flowering rush, purple loosestrife, and starry stonewort.
- Asian clam, New Zealand mudsnail, quagga mussel, red rimmed melania, red swamp crayfish, rusty crayfish, spiny waterflea and zebra mussel.
What lakes are infested with zebra mussels?
- Pactola Reservoir in Pennington County;
- Enemy Swim Lake in Day County;
- Blue Dog Lake in Day County;
- Lake Cochrane in Deuel County;
- Lake Kampeska in Codington County.;
- Lake Sharpe;
- Lake Francis Case;
- James River;
- Lewis and Clark Lake and the Missouri River upstream of the lake to Fort Randall Dam;
- The Missouri River from Gavins Point Dam downstream to the confluence with the Big Sioux River;
- McCook Lake in Union County;
- South Rush Lake in Day County;
- Lake Yankton in Yankton County;
- Clear Lake in Marshall County;
- Lake Mitchell in Davison County;
- Sand Lake National Refuge in Brown County;
- Pickerel Lake in Day County; and
- Dahme Quarry in Brown County.
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 an infested water and:
- a) Not all water can be drained.
b) Not all vegetation can be removed once a watercraft has been removed from a waterbody containing AIS.
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:
- Inspecting the exterior of a watercraft and trailer for the presence of organisms or organic material that may harbor aquatic invasive species.
- Examining any interior portion of a watercraft that may carry or transport water or organic material, including engines, motors, livewells, ballast tanks, and bilge areas.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- In a container (not a part of the boat), that is filled with domestic water (tap water, well water, bottled water, ice).
- On ice - in a cooler or pull the plug on their livewell and fill it with ice (plug must remain out).
- 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.
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.