With duck hunting season getting underway in most of the state in early November, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is reminding waterfowl hunters to clean, drain and dry boats and equipment before traveling from lake to lake to help avoid spreading invasive species like giant salvinia and zebra mussels.
“Invasive species like giant salvinia can quickly grow to cover expanses of fresh water, which can block access for hunters to prime waterfowl hunting areas,” said John Findeisen, TPWD aquatic invasive species team lead. “By properly cleaning, draining and drying equipment and reporting sightings of invasive species, waterfowl hunters can make a big difference in the fight to protect our lakes and waterways from aquatic invaders.”
Findeisen noted all equipment that comes into contact with the water is capable of harboring invasive species – including waders, boats, trailers and decoys – and can quickly spread them to new places and destroy aquatic habitats.
“Any gear that has been in the water can carry invasives and must also go through a thorough clean, drain and dry process,” Findeisen said. “This includes decoys, waders and marsh sleds.”
In Texas it is unlawful to possess or transport prohibited aquatic invasive species, dead or alive, anywhere in the state. TPWD regulations also require boaters to drain all water from their boat and onboard receptacles before leaving or approaching a public body of fresh water in order to prevent the transfer of invasive species. This regulation applies to all types and sizes of boats whether powered or not: personal watercraft, sailboats, kayaks/canoes or any other vessel used on public waters.
These three steps can prevent further spread of invasive species in Texas:
CLEAN: Before leaving the ramp area, do a walkaround inspection. Remove any plants, mud and debris from the boat, trailer and gear. Be sure to check your boots, dogs, decoys, and anything else that was in the water.
DRAIN: Drain your boat, motor and other water-retaining compartments. Keep your drain plugs out until you are home.
DRY: Let your boat and gear dry completely before entering another waterbody. If it can’t dry for at least a week, then wash everything thoroughly with high-pressure, soapy water.
A new video intended to help hunters properly clean, drain and dry boats and equipment can be found at https://youtu.be/f-CQW9n0t4c.
Because early detection is an important part of reducing or eliminating the presence of invasive species, TPWD encourages hunters to help be the eyes open in their hunting areas. To report giant salvinia call (409) 384- 9965 or use the online report form. If you find zebra mussels on your boat or gear, call TPWD at (512) 389-4848 before moving it to another waterbody. To report zebra mussels in a new waterway, use our online report form.
Text TPWD GS or TPWD ZM to GOV311 for updates on giant salvinia (GS) or zebra mussels (ZM).