Compare gas prices now to just a few years ago and it’s easy to understand that anglers want to take the opportunity to explore more lakes, rivers and reservoirs. I’m not just talking North Dakota, either.

But this additional travel also requires more emphasis on preventing the introduction and spread of aquatic nuisance species.

While many of North Dakota’s ANS prevention regulations are similar to surrounding states and provinces, state Game and Fish Department ANS coordinator Jessica Howell says there are some subtle differences that could lead to travel interruption or citations.

“Removal of all water and vegetation, as well as pulled plugs while traveling, are generally the rule in neighboring states and provinces,” Howell said. "But there are some places where ‘dry’ is also a requirement, meaning no residual water anywhere in the boat.”

Mandatory boat inspections may be required based on destination or route taken. For example, Howell said anyone pulling a boat into Canada will likely have it inspected at a border crossing. Some states, including Montana, have inspection checkpoints along highways, and some lakes have inspectors at boat ramps. Any boats that are not in compliance will likely get delayed in their travels or be prevented from launching, Howell said.

Boaters should be aware of regulations for not only their destination, but for any states through which they are traveling

Prominent regulations

• All aquatic vegetation must be removed from boats, personal watercraft, trailers and fishing equipment such as fishing poles, bait buckets, lures and waders before leaving a body of water.

• All water must be drained from boats and other watercraft, including bilges, livewells, baitwells and motors before leaving a water body.

• All drain plugs that may hold back water must be removed, and water draining devices must be open, on all watercraft and recreational, commercial and construction equipment bilges and confined spaces, during any out-of-water transport of same.

• Live aquatic bait or aquatic vegetation may not be transported into North Dakota.

• Anglers may not transport live bait in water away from the Red River . In all other waters not infested with Class I ANS species, anglers can transport live bait in water in containers of five gallons or less in volume.

Doug Leier is a biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.