AIS (Aquatic Invasive Species) are plants, fish, invertebrates, and other creatures that are non-native to our lakes and rivers. Invasive species cause issues when they outcompete native animals and overwhelm their environment, with economic, environmental, and social ramifications. Each summer, Aitkin County hires AIS Watercraft Inspectors to check boats, docks, and other recreational watercraft for signs of invasive species. Aitkin County also has 4 decontamination units (decon units), which use hot water to clean and remove any invasive species that may be present on watercraft.
The Minnesota DNR has a map of decontamination units available to the public. Click here for a state-wide map.
Invasive Species in Aitkin County Waters:
Common aquatic invasive species of concern in Aitkin County are:
- Spiny waterflea (Present in Mille Lacs Lake)
- Flowering rush (Present in Big Sandy and Mississippi River)
- Starry stonewort (Not detected, but potential invader of concern)
- Eurasian watermilfoil (French Lake and Mille Lacs tributaries, Mississippi River)
- Zebra mussel (Big Pine, Little Pine, Farm Island, Cedar, Round, and Mille Lacs Lakes, Mississippi River)
- Carps (silver carp, grass carp, and bighead carp) (Mississippi River)
A list of Minnesota’s infested waters can be found here: EDDMaps
Remember, always: Clean, Drain, and Dry!