Don’t Pick Up a Hitchhiker

     If you have to pick up a hitchhiker then please don’t bring them to the Gunflint Trail, especially if it’s an Invasive Aquatic Species Hitchhiker.  The Boundary Waters has some of the cleanest lakes you’ll ever see and we want to keep it that way. You can help us by not bringing invasive species to our area.

     I’m sure no one intentionally spreads these nasty creatures from lake to lake but due to ignorance or laziness they are making their way everywhere.  The Minnesota DNR Conservation Officers have been issuing a number of tickets for not removing drain plugs or complying with laws regarding the transport of invasive species.

     Now that schools are finishing up for the year more and more people will be out in their boats.  Please take the time to make sure you aren’t transporting hitchhikers especially if you’re coming to the BWCA. 



1. CLEAN all visible aquatic plants, zebra mussels, and other prohibited invasive species from watercraft, trailers, and water-related equipment before leaving any water access or shoreland.


2. DRAIN water-related equipment (boat, ballast tanks, portable bait containers, motor) and drain  bilge, livewell and baitwell by removing drain plugs before leaving a water access or shoreline property. Keep drain plugs out and water-draining devices open while transporting watercraft.

Q&A – Boat draining, drain plugs, and bait container draining (PDF)


3. DISPOSE of unwanted bait, including minnows, leeches, and worms, in the trash. It is illegal to release live bait into a waterbody or release aquatic animals from one waterbody to another. If you want to keep your live bait, you must refill the bait container with bottled or tap water.

KNOW THE LAW: You may not…

  • Transport watercraft without removing the drain plug.
  • Arrive at lake access with drain plug in place.
  • Transport aquatic plants, zebra mussels, or other prohibited species on any roadway.
  • Launch a watercraft with prohibited species attached.
  • Transport water from Minnesota lakes or rivers.
  • Release live bait into the water.




Spray, rinse, dry — Some invasive species are small and difficult to see at the access. To remove or kill them, take one or more of the following precautions before moving to another waterbody, especially after leaving zebra mussel and spiny waterflea infested waters:     

  • Spray with high-pressure water
  • Rinse with very hot water*
  • Dry for at least 5 days

Run motor and personal watercraft for a few seconds to discharge water before leaving a water access.

Transport fish on ice — be prepared, bring a cooler.

* These water temperatures will kill zebra mussels and some other AIS: 120°F for at least 2 minutes; or 140°F for at least 10 seconds.


movie icon Watch the Clean, Drain, Dry video »



Report new infestations

If you suspect a new infestation of an invasive plant or animal, take a photo and note the location, or save a specimen and report it to a local DNR invasive species contact.

There is also a risk of spreading AIS by other water recreation. In addition to the required and recommended actions listed above, take extra precautions when engaging in these activities. Click on topic below to reveal more information. Click again to hide.