Nearly 200 bait shop businesses in more than 30 counties are helping stop the spread of aquatic invasive species in Wisconsin lakes and rivers by sharing prevention steps with customers.
Customers at these shops can now find free floating key chains, pamphlets, and bait bucket stickers with reminders of how to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species like Eurasian water milfoil, Asian carp and the fish disease VHS, and comply with laws aimed at preventing the spread.
“We’re really pleased and appreciative that so many bait shops are helping get the word out on how to prevent invasive species from spreading,” says Bob Wakeman, who coordinates aquatic invasive species efforts for the Department of Natural Resources.
“Bait shops are key stops for many anglers on their way to a lake or river, and anglers often ask shops for advice, so these bait vendors are in an excellent position to give their customers the right information at the right time.”
An ad in the July 27 issue of Wisconsin Outdoor News lists the participating bait shops and encourages customers to support these and other bait vendors that promote protecting Wisconsin’s lakes from aquatic invasive species. As outreach to bait shops by AIS specialists continues, customers can expect to see a growing army of supportive businesses, Wakeman says.
DNR, working with University of Wisconsin-Extension and UW-Madison Department of Life Science Communications, developed the outreach and materials tailored for bait shops this spring. County AIS coordinators have been working to enlist bait shops in distributing the information.
Scott Caven, AIS coordinator for Ashland County, has worked with several businesses already to help provide customers with information on aquatic invasive species, non-native species like Eurasian water milfoil, Asian Carp, and the fish disease VHS that harm native species, recreation and local businesses while decreasing the economic value of the state’s water resources.
“Store owners are familiar with AIS related issues and understand the importance of preventing the spread,” he says. “They also understand that having nearby lakes overrun by aquatic invasive species can really hurt their businesses. They are extremely supportive of preventing the spread of aquatic invasives.”
Deborah Seiler, an AIS outreach specialist with DNR and UW Extension, emphasizes that the prevention steps take anglers only a few minutes to complete before they leave a lake or river.
“Look over your boat, trailer and equipment when you’re finished on the water for any attached plants and animals,” says Seiler. “Wisconsin law requires you to remove any plants, animals or mud, to drain your boats and livewells, and make sure you aren’t transporting live fish.
“Once your fish are out of water or on ice, they’re considered dead, and you can still take away live bait and use it again if you follow bait laws,” she said.